Suburban schools very aware of sun threat

2013-09-20 00:00

KZN’S suburban schools are very aware of the danger of sunburn or over exposure to the sun, and most schools in KwaZulu-Natal have rules in place to prevent primary school children from becoming victims.

Carol Lottering, principal of Manor Gardens Primary School, said: “We believe that it is important to educate the children about protection from too much exposure to the intense South African sun and the high UV rays. A white sunhat is therefore a compulsory item of the school uniform to be worn outdoors, and we enforce a ‘no hat, no play’ policy during breaks, especially during the first and fourth terms, when the sun’s UV levels are at their highest.

“The children have the option to wear a rash vest over their swimming costumes and the option to wear a swim suit instead of a swimming costume during swimming lessons, to reduce the amount of skin exposed.

Lottering added that parents and children are reminded to use sunscreen before leaving home on days when there are sporting activities, or when the children will be travelling away on an educational excursion. She said: “Our motto is: ‘slip, slop, slap’, which is that the children slip on clothing, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.”

Cordwalles spokesperson Ruth Forder said they also have a no hat, no play rule. She said that each class teacher is given a bottle of sunscreen to apply to those children who did not have sunscreen applied at home. The children have access to water fountains around the school to keep hydrated and the school has a policy to cancel sports activities when the temperatures reach extreme levels.

Durban’s Morningside Primary incorporates a wide-brimmed hat and a peak in its uniform, but wearing the hat is optional. Principal Des Friedrichs said the parents and children are reminded regularly of the need to apply sunscreen, particularly during swimming and P.E. lessons. The school has a large number of shady trees, and a water fountain is also situated on the sports field. Like other schools, it cancels sports fixtures when the weather is extremely hot. The school has air conditioning to help the pupils cope with the humid weather conditions in summer.

The Witness contacted two township schools that did not respond by the time this story was published.

• trish.beaver@witness.co.za

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