School staff are encouraged to support students and staff to use a combination of sun protection measures when UV index levels are 3 or above (generally from mid-August to the end of April in Victoria, which covers most of the school year).

Encouraging sun protection at school

Students should be encouraged and supported to develop independent sun protection skills to help them to be responsible for their own protection. Schools can encourage student sun protection skills by:

  • staff role modelling personal sun-protection measures at school, including applying sunscreen when outside
  • ensuring that education about skin cancer prevention is included in the curriculum for all year levels, where appropriate. SunSmart have a number of free resources for schools – visit SunSmart primary school resourcesExternal Link or SunSmart secondary school resourcesExternal Link
  • encouraging and reminding students to wear sun-protective clothing, hats, close-fitting wrap-around sunglasses, and to wear and reapply sunscreen
  • where possible, encouraging students to bring sunscreen to school
  • developing strategies that remind students to apply sunscreen before going outdoors (for example, reminder notices, sunscreen monitors, sunscreen buddies, sunscreen stations near entry and exit points).

Using sunscreen

Some schools may choose to purchase sunscreen for students and staff to use. Sunscreen can be purchased as a cream, lotion, milk or gel. Cancer Council Victoria does not recommend aerosol sunscreen, as it is very difficult to obtain the required amount of sunscreen necessary to achieve good UV protection.

Schools can follow this guidance for sunscreen use:

  • Use only as directed by the instructions on the label
  • Encourage students to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and to reapply every 2 hours if outside, as well as after swimming or excessive sweating. Students should be encouraged to use a generous amount of sunscreen
  • Monitor the sunscreen expiry date and use sunscreen within its expiry date
  • Store sunscreen below 30°C
  • Sunscreen should be used in conjunction with other sun protection measures (hat, clothing, shade and sunglasses)

Sunscreen reaction or allergy

The risk of allergies and cross infection from sunscreen use is very low. Where a student has experienced a reaction to sunscreen, parents or independent students should be encouraged to try a sensitive or alternative formula, consult their doctor or seek a referral to a dermatologist to understand what may have caused a reaction and gain advice on ingredients that should be avoided in the future. Other sun protection measures should be followed when sunscreen can’t be used.

Although rare, people experiencing serious reactions to sunscreens should be urgently treated by medical professionals.

Refer to sunscreen reactionsExternal Link for further information.

Providing sunscreen

Schools are recommended to select and purchase SPF50 or SPF50+ broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen.

Schools may use up any remaining SPF30+ sunscreen, provided it is not expired.

Schools are advised to avoid aerosol sunscreen – it is difficult to apply and get the adequate coverage needed to protect staff and students from harmful UV exposure.

Schools can order sunscreen from a variety of retailers, including chemists, supermarkets and through the stationery state purchasing contract with Complete Office Supplies (COS)External Link , using the school’s login details.

Further information on ordering through COS can be found in the How-to guide for COSnet (PDF)External Link (staff login required).

Includes information on encouraging sun protection at school, using sunscreen, sunscreen reaction or allergy and providing sunscreen

Reviewed 21 June 2024

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