Target 11 discovers schools can't apply sunscreen

Updated:

Loading
PITTSBURGH —

Sunscreen is a must when you're outside and in the hot sun, but did you know, in Pennsylvania, it's actually illegal for kids to apply sunscreen at school? Target 11 Consumer Investigator Robin Taylor takes a look at why.

Like it or not, schools consider sunscreen a medication and treat it the same way they would Tylenol or ibuprofen. According to state law, the only one who can administer it is the school nurse.

For day-care centers the rules are slightly more lenient, but sunscreen is still highly regulated.

The kids we met at a summer camp in Blueberry Hill Park are allowed to put on sunscreen, but only if their parents have signed a permission slip, and they have to bring their own bottle.

Youngworld, the day care that runs the camp, used to provide sunscreen until the state Department of Public Welfare said that wasn't allowed.

"Each child may have sensitive skin to one or the other of the suntan lotions, so that's why we have required the children to bring their own," said Jan Evankovich, the director of Youngworld in Franklin Park.

Day-care providers can help younger children apply sunscreen, but teachers in public schools can't.

I asked the Pennsylvania Department of Health why, and was told it's because Food and Drug Administration classifies sunscreen as an over-the-counter medication.

Just like Neosporin, students must have a doctor's order, not just their parent's permission, and the sunscreen has to be administered by a nurse.

Kids can't even bring sunscreen to school and apply it themselves.

"My daughter goes to a school with 600 kids. Like, I'm just imagining one nurse going around applying sunscreen to 600 kids. That seems ridiculous," said Molly Wetmore, a sixth grade teacher from Mt. Lebanon.

With all the warnings these days about skin cancer, the rules come as a surprise to many parents.

"Both my daughters have really fair skin, so I think it would be most appropriate to make sure that they're protected," said Marc Hutchison, a parent from McCandless Township.

"My opinion is the teachers should have common sense. If they're going to be outside, they should just put it on," said Dana Hune, a parent from Ross Township.

What administrators recommend is that parents apply sunscreen before they send their kids to school or camp, that way they'll have some protection against the sun's burning rays.