Under threat of legislation from a state senator who represents Bellevue and Papillion, the Nebraska Department of Education will no longer require a doctor’s note for students to bring sunblock to school.
District 3 State Sen. Carol Blood said that given increasing rates of skin cancer, the requirement was an example of “government overreach at its finest.”
“We made an agreement to not push forward the legislation (if) they update the written policy of requiring that students must have a doctor’s note to bring sunblock to school,” Blood said.
“Skin cancer has a very high rate in Nebraska and can be one of the most preventable with appropriate precautions such as sunblock.”
She said the new policy will be in place this fall.
In testimony before the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, Blood said school districts do not maintain a uniform policy governing whether students may bring sunblock to school. Some districts categorize sunblock as cosmetic and therefore do not restrict its use; others view it as an over-the-counter medication, which requires a doctor’s note.
Blood was supported by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association and by Nebraska dermatologists, both of whom warned the prevalence of skin cancer is increasing and that melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers, increased by an average of 1.4 percent a year during the past 10 years.
Statistics developed by the ASDSA suggest an individual’s risk of developing melanoma doubles after sustaining five or more sunburns.
It also found that half of school districts across the United States lack a policy authorizing students to bring sunblock to school.
“Broad reaching ‘medication bans’ require students to have a physician’s note or prescription to possess and utilize sunscreen at school — leading to decreased access to sun-protective measures that prevent skin cancer,” the association concluded.