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Merck Consumer Care launched the "Making the Sunscreen Grade" program to equip parents with tools to help their children develop lifelong sun habits, including those that protect them from the sun during the school day, with activities like class trips and field days that typically occur this time of year. The need for the program is reinforced by a recent national survey conducted for the brand, where amongst other results nearly two-thirds of Americans did not know that many United States schools have rules and restrictions around the usage of sunscreen, because it is an over-the-counter drug.
Currently, policies about sun protection, including sunscreen application, vary from state to state, and potentially even within school districts. According to the survey, Americans favor using a variety of sun protection methods in school. In fact, two out of three (67%) agree or strongly agree they would like to see schools promote the use of sunglasses, hats and sun-protective clothing during outdoor activities. Additionally, 80% of those surveyed agree or strongly agree that schools should work with parents to make it easy for children to be protected from the sun.
Although parents may be applying sunscreen to their children before they go to school, ideally it should be reapplied by the time a midday recess begins, to help reduce the risk of unsafe sun exposure and sunburns. Some schools only allow sunscreen application with written permission from a child's parent or a physician, or both. Additional reasons for rules around sun protection may include the risk for a potential allergic reaction, the question of school staff applying sunscreen to students, and in some cases, the potential cost of implementing a sun protection program.
"School officials and parents recognize the importance of protecting children from the sun, but they may find policies and regulations tricky to navigate if they aren't well informed about them first," said Ana M. Duarte, MD, division director of Dermatology at Miami Children's Hospital and consultant to Coppertone. "I'm excited to be a part of the 'Making the Sunscreen Grade' program. It educates parents about steps they can take to help protect their children during the day and invites them to partner with their schools to make sun protection and sunscreen reapplication a priority."
The "Making the Sunscreen Grade" program provides tools to help educate parents on the importance of sun protection during the school day and year-round. Starting today, a downloadable sun protection guide is available in English and Spanish at www.coppertone.com. Beginning May 1, the guide was distributed to a half-million households across 10 United States regions. It offers tips parents can use to make sun protection a priority, including the following steps: