Sunscreen bill signed into law

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published July 13, 2018

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METRO DETROIT — With a bill that frees schools from liability if they choose to allow students to bring sunscreen to school, state Rep. Kevin Hertel said students will be able to protect themselves on the playground or during sporting events.

Public Act 243 of 2018, introduced by Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores, allows students to bring sunscreen and other U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved topicals to school and to use them during school activities. Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill into law in June.

During hearings in February, Hertel said that school districts across the state had different regulations about sunscreen, but many did not allow students to bring it to school without a note from a doctor to protect themselves from liability. The new act will allow students to possess sunscreen with a note from their parents, without the schools being held liable.

When it passed the state House of Representatives, the legislation was amended to include over-the-counter topical substances regulated by the FDA as well. 

“Our main concern was always sunscreen, because we know that the preventative nature of sunscreen is important for children to have,” Hertel said. “Any of these items will still require a note from the parent in order for the student to possess in the school.”

Hertel said that the bill will just allow each individual school district to make its own choice by removing the liability from the district if it allows students to have and use sunscreen at school.

“A school district can now make the choice, based on their best interest, which policy to go with,” he said. 

In order to bring sunscreen or other topical products — such as external analgesics, psoriasis treatments or topical eczema treatments — to school, the student must have permission from their parent or legal guardian, and the principal or chief administrator of the school must have a copy of the written approval. 

“There was a hodge-podge of policy across the state,” Hertel said. “This just removed what we thought was an unnecessary law and makes it easier for districts to make their own policy.”

South Lake Schools Superintendent Ted Von Hiltmayer said that the district doesn’t currently have a policy in place specific to sunscreen but, prior to the bill’s passage, it would likely have fallen under the category of needing a form to be filled out by a doctor for a student to have permission, similar to dispensing medicine. 

“Now, I do think it’s a good thing. We have students that are outside for recess ... field day ... I think this is a good thing in the sense that, if somebody needs sunscreen, they can put it on themselves,” he said. 

He said there was a case at one of the district’s schools where a parent wanted school personnel to apply sunscreen on a child, but that wasn’t something that school personnel could do. In that case, he said, the parent came and applied the sunscreen on the child during school.

“The child now, if they’re old enough ... would be able to do it themselves,” he said.