Kids Come Home from School with Bad Sunburns. Who is Responsible?

It was raining when her children left for school on Tuesday, so Jesse Michener did not slather them in sunscreen, even though she knew they'd be outdoors for field day later that afternoon. But the sun came out around noon and, when the kids came home, two of them were so severely sunburned that they had to go to the hospital.

"Two of my three children experienced significant sunburns. Like, hurts-to-look-at burns," Michener wrote on her blog. (A freelance photographer, she snapped photos of her daughters and posted those as well.) "Violet is starting to blister on her face," she described, adding that she and her sister, Zoe, "have headaches, chills and pain."

Related: CDC says half of young adults get sunburned

To make matters worse, Zoe has a form of Albinism -- and teachers and staff at Point Defiance Elementary School were aware of her extreme sensitivity to the sun. She even has a 504 plan in place because of it. And yet, teachers refused to send the girls indoors or allow them to apply sunscreen themselves.

"My children indicated that several adults commented on their burns at school, including staff and other parents," Michener wrote. "One of my children remarked that their teacher used sunscreen in her presence and that it was 'just for her.' So, is this an issue of passive, inactive supervision? Where is the collective awareness for student safety?"

Tacoma Public School district spokesman Dan Voelpel told that the school district's sunscreen policy -- which forbids teachers from applying sunscreen to students, and only allows students to apply it to their own bodies if they have a doctor's note authorizing it -- is based on a statewide law.

The federal Food and Drug Administration considers sunscreen to be an over-the-counter medication, which means that a doctor's note is required in order to authorize its use while kids are at school. The law is aimed at stopping kids from sharing their own sunscreen with someone who might be allergic to one of its ingredients, Voelpel explained.

While Michener says that she takes full responsibility for not making them put on sunscreen before them to school that day -- none of her kids have ever come home from school with sunburns before, she notes -- she also points out that teachers had other options besides breaking the law: They could have sent the girls indoors when they noticed the burns getting bad, or called Michener and asked her to come to school and apply the sunscreen herself. (The FDA suggests that sunscreen be reapplied every two hours.)

"Something as simple as as sun hat might seem to bypass the prescription issue to some extent," she wrote. "Alas, hats are not allowed at school, even on field day."

Michener is asking the school district to consider crafting a more "parent-friendly" policy on sunscreens, one that would allow parents to sign a waiver giving permission to apply sunscreen while at school, or one that would allow teachers to act in their students' best interests.

"If they were getting stung by bees, teachers would remove them," she pointed out.

Copyright © 2012 Yahoo Inc.

Also on Shine:

6 natural summer sunscreens made without toxic ingredients
Sun damage and ethnic skin: What you need to know
Choosing the best sunscreens -- and avoiding the worst