Collaborative Approach Improves Adoption of Sun Safety Policies in School Districts

Partnerships formed between healthcare representatives and school associations may aid in the adoption of sun safety policies based on state laws and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, according to the results of a recent analysis published in JAMA Dermatology.1

In 2005, the investigators collaborated with the California School Boards Association (CSBA) to develop a comprehensive sample board policy for sun protection — referred to as BP 5141.7(a)2 — based on state law and CDC guidelines. The researchers examined content of the CSBA member districts’ sun safety policies and deviations from the sample board policy.

Board policies were evaluated from California public school districts that included elementary schools, adhered to CSBA policy services, and posted their board policy online (n=190). The sun safety contents of these policies were divided into 11 categories, which reflected guidelines on sunscreen use, ultraviolet protective clothing, hats, education of students, education of teachers, scheduling of outdoor activities, outdoor shade provision, parent outreach, resource allocation, accountability, and staff modeling of sun protective behaviors.

Of the districts evaluated, 59.5% (113) adopted the CSBA policy verbatim. Mean policy score for a district was 22±5.8, with most of the districts including shade, scheduling of outdoor activities, staff modeling, and parent outreach in their policies. Overall, 77.9% (148 of 190) of the policies included student education, whereas very few of the policies addressed the education of teachers, resource allocation, or accountability.

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Of the 190 districts evaluated, 76 (40.0%) altered their policy to delete content from the CSBA sample policy, most often education of students (removed by 42 of 190 districts [22.1%]), outdoor shade (removed by 32 of 190 districts [16.8%]), or parent outreach (removed by 28 of 190 districts [14.7%]). A total of 5 districts deleted all content from the sample policy other than the opening paragraph.

The investigators concluded that future research should explore, in greater detail, the ways in which policies are implemented. It is in the best interest of other school districts throughout the United States to establish a partnership with similar statewide or national associations to help achieve school-based cancer prevention strategies.


  1. Berteletti J, Buller DB, Massie K, Ashley J, Liu X, Reynolds KD. Sun protection policies in public school districts with elementary schools in California [published online October 25, 2017]. JAMA Dermatol. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.3725
  2. California School Board Association. Students: Sun Safety. West Sacramento: California School Board Association; June 2006.