Sunscreen in schools: Ay, there’s the rub

By Matthew McCully

Sunscreen was a hot topic during Tuesday evening’s Eastern Townships School Board Council of Commissioners meeting.
Appalachian Teachers’ Association President Megan Seline pointed out that while parents are expected to provide it, teachers are responsible for making sure students apply sunscreen before going outside. With social distancing measures in place and teachers unable to help with the application, Seline said a number of teachers have been purchasing more expensive spray sunscreen to make sure students are protected. Sunscreen is just one of the out-of-pocket expenditures teachers are making in an effort to have activities and play options available to students in the absence of playgrounds, she added.
Seline asked the board if there were a budget available for bubbles and sunscreen.
ETSB Chairman Michael Murray replied that the budget is currently in disarray, but it would be added to the list of things to look at. He added that the issue might be one that individual schools should rally around to address. Seline followed up asking if PPOs might be the ones to approach to request support for purchases like sunscreen, chalk and skipping ropes.
Commissioner Tina Pezzi-Bilodeau pointed out that in her role as a parent she had seen things like chalk ­donated several times to schools and said some PPOs would likely be willing to help.
The topic of sunscreen brought with it the concern that the board should have a plan in place for students who arrive at school without sunscreen. Secretary General Éric Campbell added that teachers should be sure students don’t have allergies or issues with skin irritation before applying their own spray sunscreen on a child.
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