Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.
These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.
Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.
About the bill
For many youngsters, recess is the highlight of school days. It’s a time to get out of the classroom and just play.
But the carefree time spent outdoors at recess and other school events is not without its dangers, and schools in Pennsylvania are at a disadvantage in dealing with them, according to Rep. Harold English, R-Allegheny County.
The danger English speaks of is harmful exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
Staff at Pennsylvania schools are only allowed to administer sunscreen to students if the school has received parental permission and a doctor’s note because sunscreen is considered an over-the-counter medication by the Food and Drug Administration, according to English.
“Just like Neosporin, students must have a doctor’s order, not just their parent’s permission, and the sunscreen has to be administered by a nurse,” English wrote in a co-sponsorship letter. “Kids can’t even bring sunscreen to school and apply it themselves.”
English has introduced House Bill 1228 to remedy the access to sunscreen.
HB 1228 would allow “students, during school hours or at a school-sponsored activity, to apply a topical sunscreen product without a physician’s note or prescription if the product is approved by the FDA for over-the-counter use” and allow school personnel to assist the students with parental permission.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that school policies that prohibit hats or student possession of sunscreen can create barriers to the use of important sun protection methods,” English wrote. “The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends educating children, adolescents and young adults on the dangers of sun exposure to reduce the risk of skin cancer.”
English’s bill would also allow the outdoor use by students of “sun-protective clothing, including, but not limited to, hats.”