House OKs Bennett bill to allow students sunscreen in schools

 

STATE HOUSE – Students in Rhode Island schools will not be denied the right to possess and apply sunscreen under legislation sponsored by Rep. David Bennett and unanimously approved by the House of Representatives today.

The legislation (2020-H 7123A), which has passed the House each year since 2017, ensures that students, as well as teachers and parents on school property, will be allowed to have and use sunscreen at school, despite state regulations that prohibit anyone other than a school nurse from administering medications, including Food and Drug Administration-approved substances like sunscreen, or possessing them without a doctor’s note or prescription. Students in kindergarten through grade 5 would be required to have a permission note from a parent or guardian, and the bill specifies that school personnel are not required to assist students with application, nor shall they be held liable for any damages concerning sunscreen.

The bill will now head to the Senate, where Senate Health and Human Services Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) is sponsoring companion legislation (2020-S 2176).

Representative Bennett, who works as a nurse, said he sponsored the bill because regular sunscreen use has long been recommended as a means to prevent sun damage and skin cancer, and any policy that stops children from using sunscreen flies in the face of public health and safety.

“The dangers of unprotected sun exposure are well-known. Kids, in particular, need protection both because their skin is more delicate and because even one bad sunburn as a child vastly increases a person’s chances of getting skin cancer. We are really throwing the baby out with the bathwater if we are telling kids they can’t have sunscreen in school because of a medication policy that’s supposed to be protecting their health,” said Representative Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston). “Schools send kids outside for recess every day. Some have a field day in June, when the kids are out in the sun all day long. Of course those kids should be able to have sunscreen and reapply it. This is common-sense legislation.”

Under current law, a student can go to school wearing sunscreen, but cannot bring the product to school and reapply it there. Most sunscreens recommend reapplication every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.

Similar legislation or regulations have been adopted in 12 other states, and is pending in 15 others, according to the Personal Care Products Council, which supports the legislation along with a coalition that includes the Rhode Island Dermatology Society, the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation, and many other medical societies. 

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a single blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.

Representative Bennett said he hopes the legislation not only allows students to use sunscreen at school, but encourages them to wear it regularly.

“There’s no question that it’s safer for kids to put on sunscreen when they go outside. I know a lot of parents are really careful to slather it all over their kids all the time, but then they send them to school where they aren’t even allowed to have it. That’s unsafe and it sends kids a conflicting message about the very real danger of unprotected sun exposure. Instead, we should be telling them, ‘Listen to your mom. Wear sunscreen.’”

The legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Joseph J. Solomon Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), Rep. Dennis M. Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Tiverton, Little Compton), Rep. James B. Jackson (D-Dist. 26, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) and Rep. Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick).

 

 

-30-

For an electronic version of this and all press releases published by the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau, please visit our website at www.rilegislature.gov/pressrelease. 

 

 

 

 

The coronavirus is claiming more American lives. The national death toll from the respiratory illness climbed over the seven-thousand mark today. There are also more than 275-thousand cases of COVID-19 across the country, with New York and New Jersey having the most.       The CDC is making new recommendations to fight the spread of coronavirus. Speaking at the White House, President Trump said the agency is advising a non-medical cloth face covering as an additional public health measure. Trump noted it is voluntary and doesn't think he will follow the suggestion.       President Trump has no plans to issue a national stay-at-home order because of coronavirus. During a White House briefing, Trump said he's leaving it up to governors. He claimed the states that have yet to issue such a directive "are not in jeopardy."       A gun rights group is suing the mayor of Los Angeles for closing gun stores during the coronavirus pandemic. The California Rifle & Pistol Ass'n claims their rights were violated because the federal government has called gun and ammo stores essential businesses. Under Governor Gavin Newsom's statewide stay-at-home order, he deems gun stores essential, but also allows local law enforcement to make that decision for themselves.        Mayor Bill de Blasio says New York City faces a critical moment in the ongoing fight against coronavirus, specifically in terms of securing the needed number of ventilators, and additional medical personnel. He praised both New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo after they enacted executive orders allowing the state to seize privately owned ventilators.        'The Shows Must Go On.' That's not only true for Broadway but also the name of a new YouTube channel. It's where fans of Andrew Lloyd Webber can see his musicals for free for the next seven weeks. They'll stream every Friday, starting tonight, for 48-hours each.