Tuesday 7 April 2020

Sun Protection

It was great to see so many school communities engaging with the Sun Protection policy as part of the term 4 2019 SchoolDocs review. Board members, staff, and parents were invited to send review feedback, and we heard from a wide range of reviewers. Most reviewers were very happy with the policy and their school’s implementation of it, but we also received lots of good ideas for improvement, and we’ve updated the topic with these suggestions in mind.

When the policy applies – The Cancer Society offers feedback on our policy, and this year they suggested making it apply not only during terms 1 and 4 but at any time the UVR levels are above 3. This means the ‘no hat no play’ policy (if a school has this) and other sunsafe practices would apply throughout the year, on days that are identified as high in UVR.

Sunscreen – We received overwhelming feedback from reviewers that the policy needs to be clearer in how the use of sunscreen should be implemented. Many schools have sunscreen available for students, and schools can add details about how it should be used. See our Model site for some sample wording, and tell us what wording you’d like about sunscreen management.

Hats – While many primary schools have a ‘no hats, no play’ rule (requiring students to sit/play in the shade or inside if they don’t have a hat during terms 1 and 4) some schools noted difficulty enforcing this rule, with students not having hats, forgetting or losing them, having them blow off during active play, or not having a school culture where wearing a hat was the ‘norm’. Based on the review feedback, schools that have the hat as part of a uniform seemed to find this easier.

Other points of note – Educating your school community about your sun protection policy and the risks of excessive UVR is key, and schools that felt they were successful in this area shared their policy annually and put regular reminders in their newsletters.

SunSmart Schools – If you’re a SunSmart accredited school, do you have the optional statement to show this on your SchoolDocs policy? If not, let us know and we’ll add it. If you do have the statement about being a SunSmart school, are you still meeting their minimum criteria to stay accredited? See the SunSmart website for more details.

What’s next? – Read your updated policy on your SchoolDocs site and compare it with the Model site version to see what parts can be easily changed, and our suggested wording for best practice. Got questions about your sun protection policy, or need to make a change? Contact SchoolDocs.

We understand a change in the timing of the policy may be difficult for schools to implement, so we haven’t made a change to our generic wording at this stage. However, let us know if your school wants to extend your policy timing.
Schools would need to consider how a change in timing would work – could the duty supervisor check the UVR levels daily and make a call on whether hats/sunscreen should be worn or not, in the same way that a ‘rainy day’ decision is made in winter? Some schools have a UVI board where they mark the levels, or a flag they put up when it’s a day that requires sun protection. What might work for your school?

A number of reviewers also queried the best kind of sunscreen to use. We follow the Cancer Society’s recommendation of a broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF30.

We’d like to point out that the wording about hats in your Sun Protection policy is completely tailorable. Schools that don’t require students to wear wide brim hats can say they allow caps, or if hat wearing is only encouraged rather than required, then the policy wording can be changed to reflect that. It’s important that your policy say what your school does, rather than an ideal, so let us know if your policy needs updating to match your school’s practice.

It was great to see some schools thinking about how to monitor and assess the effectiveness of the policy by tracking the numbers of students who are wearing sunhats and sunscreen, and/or encouraging students to report sunburn, perhaps by recording sunburn at school as a minor-moderate injury.
Lots of schools are also clearly working on ways to increase their shading and giving thought to this in their property planning. Others also showed thought going into their uniform development. While the recommendation to wear long-sleeved tops on sunny days seemed excessive to some reviewers, as something outside the cultural norm, others are beginning to consider how they might introduce a thin long-sleeve shirt into the school summer uniform, which would also reduce the need for sunscreen.

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