New SC law allows sunscreen in public schools

Students weren’t allowed to have with them in a public school without permission from a doctor before.
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 4:32 AM EDT|Updated: May. 19, 2023 at 7:42 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has signed a bill into law that now allows students to possess and use sunscreen in public schools.

Because sunscreen is regulated by the FDA, it’s in the same category of drugs as over-the-counter medications, which students weren’t allowed to have with them in a public school without permission from a doctor before.

Sen. Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley) agreed to co-sponsor the bill after learning from another state senator that you could not have sunscreen in public schools. Grooms said students could actually get expelled for having it.

“I just thought it was absolutely ridiculous that you could have a baseball player participating in high school athletics out in right field with the sun beating on the head and them not be able to use sunscreen,” Grooms said. “But that was the actual policy here in our state, but that’s now changed.”

Now that the bill has become law, public school students can now possess and use sunscreen in school, including lip balms with sunscreen in them.

Annette Sandford-Lopez has been passionate about educating people about the dangers of too much sun exposure and skin cancer for 12 years, ever since she was the director of the spa at The Charleston Place.

It’s something she’s experienced in her own family. After her brother-in-law and his daughter were diagnosed with skin cancer, she started a program called “I Will Reflect Melanoma Awareness and Prevention,” which works with medical professionals to teach people how to be sun safe in the Charleston area.

Her work with the program brought her to schools to educate kids about how to stay safe in the sun. That’s where she learned about the sunscreen regulations in schools.

“The parent had to go and buy sunscreen, bring it to the doctor, get a prescription note, attach it to the sunscreen lotion, brought to the nurse, kept in the nurse’s office, and as you can imagine, if a nurse has over 600 students to take care of, that’s an impossibility to get sunscreen on all of these people,” Sandford-Lopez said.

She and her partners advocated to get the bill passed to remove the barrier for kids in schools.

“Now, you can ensure that your child is sun-safe while in school,” Sandford-Lopez said. “So please slather them in sunscreen before they leave the house. Make sure they have a hat, sunglasses, that they wear a long sleeve cotton shirt.”

Now that the bill has become law, Sandford-Lopez says their next goal is to create a program to provide sunscreen in schools for kids who don’t have access to get it themselves.