Sun Policy

Rationale for Policy
Too much exposure to ultraviolet light (UV) radiation from the sun causes sunburn, skin damage and increases the risk of skin cancer. Sun exposure in the first 15 years of life contributes significantly to the lifetime risk of skin cancer. It is has been estimated that at least 75% of skin cancer could be prevented by adequate skin protection in childhood alone. There is enormous potential for schools to help prevent skin cancer from occurring in the future. Schools are central to protecting children’s skin because:

Pupils are at school five out of seven days a week, at times when the UV rays are at their most extreme; between 10h00 and 16h00. Pupils and teachers are at risk of sunburn within 10-15 minutes of being exposed to strong sunlight. UV radiation sharply increases from October and reaches its peak in December and January and it decreases in March.
Most damage due to sun exposure occurs during the school years. 80% of all sun damage happens in the first 20 years of life.
Pupils spend an average of 1.5 hours outside per school day, more if involved in sports and outdoor activities.
SA has the highest melanoma rate in the world.
Schools have the ability to play a significant role in changing behaviours through role modelling and education.
There is no safe sun time.
SA is in a cycle of solar flares at present and the UV radiation is even higher than normal.

Skin cancer is largely preventable through behaviour modification and sun protection during the early years.

School’s Role and Responsibility
Parents have a prime responsibility to teach sun-safe behaviour to their children however schools are automatically involved because UV radiation strikes pupils, as well as personnel, when they are outdoors on the school premises. Pupils can, and sometimes do, get sunburned at school. This is significant because childhood sunburns are linked to the development of melanomas, the most deadly of the common skin cancers. Schools can teach pupils the principles of sun safety and also adopt policies aimed at protecting pupils and staff from the sun’s harm.

With reference to CANSA’S (The Cancer Association of South Africa) guidelines on sun protection programmes for schools, DGC will implement a sun protection policy in consultation with the school community, which:

provides effective educational programs on sun sense and preventative measures (PE and Life Skills lessons)
maximises the use of available shade for outdoor activities
provides flexible planning of activities to reduce, as far as practicable, time spent by pupils in the sun between 10h00 and 16h00
increase shaded areas where possible
considers sun protection when determining or reviewing school uniform designs
requires the wearing of protective clothing including appropriate hats when in the sun during the school day
encourages the use of an SPF 20+ broad-spectrum sunscreen on uncovered areas of the skin, such as the face and the back of the hands
promotes the importance of parents, teachers and voluntary helpers as role models for pupils in relation to sun protection strategies
informs parent during pupil enrolment of the school’s skin protection policy.

Objectives:

increase student and community awareness about skin cancer and sun protection
encourage the entire school community to use a combination of sun protection measures all year round
work towards a safe school environment that provides shade for pupils, staff and the school community

Sun Protection strategies:

Shade
There should be sufficient numbers of shelters and trees providing shade in the school grounds particularly in areas where the pupils congregate.
Shade should be considered as a part of future plans for building on the school grounds.
Sunscreen and hats must be included on the kit list for all excursions.
Pupils are encouraged to make use of available shaded areas when outside.

Covering Up
Pupils should wear hats when sitting in non-shaded areas outdoors:

JP – sun hat
SP and HS – DGC cap

Pupils are permitted to wear rash vests for swimming activities excluding DGC swimming galas.

Sunscreen

Each classroom will have a pump action SPF 30 sunscreen for the girls to use.

PE and Life Skills lessons
Teachers shall provide education about the benefits and dangers of exposure to the sun. This will include information about the harmful effects of UV rays and recommended practices for preventing skin cancer. A positive attitude towards skin protection will be encouraged.

Sport

Sports events will be moved away from the heat of the day when practicable. Outdoor activities will preferably be scheduled before 10h00 or after 16h00.
DGC caps are included as a part of the school uniform and may be worn with all sports outfits (available for purchase from Gem outlets)

Communication
The school will inform parents about the Sun Protection Policy. The school will urge families to reinforce sun-safe behaviour outside the school and to support the school’s sun safety programmes.
The school will have posters around the school reminding pupils about protection from the sun.

Evaluation
The school will evaluate and revise sun safety programmes and address identified shade needs on an annual basis.