On June 29th, 2018, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed into law Public Act 243 of 2018. Before becoming Public Act 243 of 2018, the legislation was commonly known as "The Sunscreen Bill", or House Bill 5379. The bill was introduced by Michigan State Representative Kevin Hertel for the purpose of allowing students to apply sunscreen while at school to protect their skin from the sun during outdoor activities.
What are the key elements of the new law?
There are two key elements of this new legislation. First, students are now permitted to use sunscreen and other over-the-counter substances at school if they have the permission of their parent or legal guardian. Second, the act stipulates that school districts or employees of school districts cannot be held liable for any damages sustained from sunscreens or other over-the-counter drugs. Specifically, the newly signed law stipulates that:
"...a pupil of a public school or nonpublic school may possess and use a United States Food and Drug Administration approved, over-the-counter topical substance at school, on school-sponsored transportation, or at any activity, event, or program sponsored by or in which the pupil's school is participating..."
- Michigan House Bill No. 5379
How has the new law impacted parents and students in Michigan?
Prior to the introduction of this new law, students were prohibited from bringing sunscreen to school in their purses or backpacks. Sunscreen, along with deodorant and lip balm, is considered an over-the-counter drug that is regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Due to this categorization, students were not permitted to bring sunscreen to school unless they supplied a doctor's authorization note. This left students vulnerable to sunburn, especially those students who are regular participants in outdoor school activities.
What factors led to the adoption of the new law?
"There's no reason why students shouldn't be able to protect themselves from the sun's harmful rays when they are on the playground or when participating in other school events or sports."
- Kevin Hertel, Michigan State Representative and Proposer of "The Sunscreen Bill"
Michigan is one of a handful of states that had received negative media attention because of the state's ban on the use of sunscreen in schools. Some Michigan legislators were prompted to support the bill as a result of parents who complained about their children suffering severe sunburns while at school. Others were motivated by the emotional pleas of young skin cancer survivors such as Madison Horton, who testified on behalf of the bill. Regardless of the reasons for supporting the bill, legislators paved the way for children to protect themselves from the sun while at school.
What steps should parents take in light of the new law?
Now that the Sunscreen Bill has been signed into law, parents and in Michigan need to swing into action by ensuring that their children properly protect their skin while at school. Below are three steps that Michigan parents should take in light of the new law.
1) Educate children
The first step in adjusting to the new law is to educate children about the importance of wearing sunscreen while at school. Due to previous restrictions, most children will not be accustomed to carrying sunscreen to school or applying it prior to participating in outdoor activities. Parents and legal guardians must help their children get into the habit of taking sunscreen to school and applying it before and during outdoor activities.
2) Provide your child's school with the proper written authorization
With the introduction of this new law, parents and legal guardians of children must provide the school principal or chief administrative officer with written permission for their children to use sunscreen. Without this written approval, sunscreen may still be prohibited.
3) Select a mineral-based sunscreen
Providing your child with a mineral-based sunscreen is the best step you can take to protect your child's skin from the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays. Below are some of the many advantages to sending your child to school with a mineral-based sunscreen such as TropicSport:
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