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SunSmart criteria for Secondary schools

A SunSmart School is not only representing SunSmart in its daily activities, but also Cancer Council SA as a role model to community and other schools throughout our state. Below you will find a description of the criteria Cancer Council SA uses to assess your school’s policy and practice against.

It is important you review whether your school implements and documents the following criteria before you submit an application to join or renew your membership. If you need assistance with implementing the SunSmart criteria, you can review additional resources or give the SunSmart team a call on 08 8291 4265

Download policy resources

SunSmart resources

FAQ: Sun protection policy and practice

General policy questions

The current DECD Inclement Weather & Sun Protection Procedure requires that all DECD primary schools, secondary schools and early childhood education and care services establish a local sun protection policy. The policy must be in effect for school terms 1, 3 and 4 and when the ultraviolet (UV) radiation level is 3 and above at other times, and will address how the DECD site will comprehensively address the risk of overexposure to UV radiation.

DECD sites, together with their governing councils or parent committees, may need to update their policy or create a new one if their current sun protection policy:

  • does not operate in terms 1, 3 and 4 and when the UV radiation level is 3 and above at other times
  • only addresses how the site will address hot or wet weather
  • does not address how the site will address each of the following during terms 1, 3 and 4 and when the UV is 3 and above:
    a. sun protective hats and clothing
    b. shade
    c. sunscreen
    d. curriculum
    e. role modelling and sun protection for Work Health and Safety (WHS)
    f. sharing the policy with families and staff
    g. sun protection for infants (if applicable).

When establishing a local sun protection policy please refer to Cancer Council SA’s SunSmart policies and supporting information which will help you meet the updated DECD procedure for Secondary schools.

Site managers can utilise the following Cancer Council SA SunSmart policies and supporting information when establishing a local sun protection policy or our SunSmart team on 08 8291 4356 to discuss the needs of their Secondary school.

Sun protection extends further than a ‘no hat, play in the shade’ rule. The policy must be in effect for school terms 1, 3 and 4 and at other times when the UV radiation level is 3 and above. The policy will need to discuss how the DECD site will comprehensively address the risk of overexposure to UV radiation including sun protective hats and clothing, shade, sunscreen, curriculum, role modelling and sun protection for Work Health and Safety, sharing the policy and sun protection for infants (if applicable).

YES. All DECD secondary schools will need to establish a local sun protection policy which is in place during terms 1, 3 and 4 and other times when the UV radiation level is 3 and above. The policy will need to discuss how the DECD site will comprehensively address the risk of overexposure to UV radiation including sun protective hats and clothing, shade, sunscreen, curriculum, role modelling and sun protection for Work Health and Safety, sharing the policy.

The SunSmart Team at Cancer Council SA can provide free support to secondary schools in a variety of ways including:

  • support and advice developing a sun protection policy
  • support and advice regarding implementing in a step-wise approach
  • curriculum resources and promotional materials to educate students
    professional learning opportunities for staff
  • information sessions for parents and governing council members
  • advice regarding consultation and implementation
  • engaging with student leadership groups
  • ongoing support and advice
  • access to shade audit tools

Previously many secondary schools have not enforced sun protection with their students so the procedures and expectations will be new and may present some challenges. The school community may prefer to slowly introduce practices over time so that students and families can adjust to the change gradually.

The SunSmart Team at Cancer Council SA can provide free support to secondary schools in a variety of ways including:

  • support and advice developing a sun protection policy
  • support and advice regarding implementing in a step-wise approach
  • curriculum resources and promotional materials to educate students
  • professional learning opportunities for staff
  • information sessions for parents and governing council members
  • advice regarding consultation and implementation
  • engaging with student leadership groups
  • ongoing support and advice
  • access to shade audit tools.

According to DECD’s Inclement Weather & Sun Protection Procedure, the policy will need to apply to all persons entering or using DECD workplaces or involved in a DECD activity including but not limited to all DECD staff, visitors, volunteers, students/children, placement students, families, contractors and others.

Families, governing councils, student leadership groups and DECD staff are encouraged to work closely together to ensure their local sun protection policy is implemented and supported.

According to the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2012, DECD employees and employers, along with visitors, volunteers and contractors, are required to have a shared responsibility regarding sun protection.

Teachers and educators who work outside for all or part of their day (including yard duty) can receive up to nine times more UV than someone who works solely indoors, which can drastically increase their risk of skin cancer. As part of WHS, staff are required to take measures to protect their skin when the UV is 3 and above. These include:

  • clothing that covers as much of the skin as possible, such as tops with collars and longer style sleeves, and longer style shorts, dresses and skirts
  • a broad brimmed, bucket or legionnaire hat (caps are not a suitable alternative)
  • applying SPF 30 or higher, broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen twenty minutes before going outdoors and reapplying every two hours
  • using shade when outdoors or organising activities under the shade where possible
  • wearing close fitting, wraparound sunglasses that meet AS/NZS 1067:2003 (Sunglasses: lens category 2, 3 or 4).

For more information on your responsibilities as an employee or employer visit the South Australian Legislation website and access the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.

Cancer Council SA provides information sessions and resources to workplaces regarding protecting their workers from overexposure to UV radiation. For more information visit Workplace risk and cancer.

To book a free information session on sun protection in the workplace call 08 8291 4356, email sunsmart@cancersa.org.au or fill in a form via our website.

The sun sends out different types of radiation – visible light that we see as sunlight, infrared radiation felt as heat and UV radiation that we can’t see or feel on our skin. People often confuse infrared (heat) and UV radiation. It is not the heat that causes sunburn and skin damage, it is the UV radiation that damages our skin and can increase our risk of skin cancer and premature ageing. A UV level of 3 or higher is strong enough to damage our skin and eyes.

When the temperature is cool it means less infrared radiation is present but not necessarily less UV radiation. It’s often the cooler days that result in skin damage because the UV level can be high while the temperature is not. It can be hard to mentally disconnect heat and UV because when it is hot our skin does feel like it is burning but in reality the heat we are feeling is the infrared radiation which does not cause sunburn.

In South Australia the UV radiation level is 3 and above from the beginning of August until the end of April even though the weather can be mild. Therefore DECD and Cancer Council SA recommend that a local sun protection policy is implemented in terms 1, 3 and 4.

The UV radiation level can also be 3 and above in term 2, so it is recommended that DECD staff and families check the UV forecast three days in advance via the Bureau of Meteorology website if arranging an all-day outdoor activity in term 2.

The conclusion regarding when the UV is 3 and above was drawn by accessing data collected by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

To assist you to access up to date information regarding the UV level for your location you can visit the Bureau of Meteorology website, the ARPANSA website, download the free SunSmart app to your smartphone or iPad, or upload the SunSmart widget to your webpage.

The sun sends out different types of radiation – visible light that we see as sunlight, infrared radiation felt as heat and UV radiation that we can’t see or feel on our skin. People often confuse infrared (heat) and UV radiation. It is not the heat that causes sunburn and skin damage, it is the UV radiation that damages our skin and can increase our risk of skin cancer and premature ageing. A UV level of 3 or higher is strong enough to damage our skin and eyes.

When the temperature is cool it means less infrared radiation is present but not necessarily less UV radiation. It’s often the cooler days that result in skin damage because the UV level can be high while the temperature is not. It can be hard to mentally disconnect heat and UV because when it is hot our skin does feel like it is burning but in reality the heat we are feeling is the infrared radiation which does not cause sunburn.

In South Australia the UV radiation level is 3 and above from the beginning of August until the end of April right across the state, even though some areas of the state experience different weather patterns across the year. Therefore Cancer Council SA and DECD recommend that a local sun protection policy is implemented in terms 1, 3 and 4.

The UV radiation level can also be 3 and above in term 2, so it is recommended that DECD staff and families check the UV forecast three days in advance via the Bureau of Meteorology website if arranging an all-day outdoor activity in term 2.

We all need vitamin D to develop strong healthy bones. The best source of vitamin D for your body is from exposure to the UV radiation from sunlight. Sensible sun protection does not put people at risk of vitamin D deficiency but there are times when it is actually important to be in the sun without protection.

When the UV Index is 3 or above (August to the end of April in South Australia), the majority of people maintain adequate vitamin D levels just by spending a few minutes outdoors on most days of the week even when wearing sun protection.

In June and July, when the UV level typically falls below 3 in southern states, Cancer Council recommends spending time outdoors in the middle of the day with skin uncovered to support vitamin D production. Being physically active also helps boost vitamin D levels.

Although most people get enough sunlight to make adequate vitamin D during their day-to-day outdoor activities there are some groups who may not make enough for a variety of reasons. These include:

  • naturally dark skinned people
  • those who cover their skin for religious or cultural reasons
  • the elderly
  • babies of vitamin D-deficient mothers
  • people who are housebound or in institutional care.

See your doctor if you are worried about your vitamin D levels.

All DECD sites are required to have a local sun protection policy in place as soon as possible.

Sometimes children and families can be resistant to procedures for a variety of reasons. It might be worth finding out why they are resisting as there could be a simple reason or miscommunication behind it.

Regularly promoting policies through assemblies, newsletters, communication apps, social media, displays, curriculum and role modelling, particularly at the start of term 1 and again in term 3, will bring the policy front of mind. Cancer Council has a range of free curriculum, information and promotional resources that sites can download or order.

The SunSmart Team at Cancer Council SA are able to visit and speak with staff, governing council members and parents/caregivers about the importance of sun protection. Staff and families are encouraged to contact Cancer Council 13 11 20 or email sunsmart@cancersa.org.au if they have questions regarding sun protection.

Sometimes staff, governing council members and/or volunteers can be resistant to procedures for a variety of reasons. It might be worth finding out why they are resisting as there could be a simple reason or miscommunication behind it.

Regularly promoting policies through staff meetings, staff handbooks and displays, particularly at the start of term 1 and again in term 3, will bring the policy front of mind. Cancer Council has a range of free information and promotional resources that sites can download or order.

Encouraging staff to access up to date information on sun protection and online SunSmart professional learning opportunities can also assist with knowledge gaps. The SunSmart Team at Cancer Council SA are able to visit and conduct free professional learning sessions regarding sun protection in the education setting.

Sites and individuals are encouraged to contact Cancer Council 13 11 20 or email sunsmart@cancersa.org.au if they have questions regarding sun protection.

Cancer Council SA is unable to present to children and students about sun protection. Instead we can provide sites with a range of resources and teaching materials to support classroom and learning activities. These are available to download and print, or order from the resources section of our website www.sunsmart.org.au.

Cancer Council can work with student leadership groups at secondary schools to support consultation and the development and implementation of sun protection policies.

YES. The SunSmart Team at Cancer Council SA are able to provide free information sessions for staff, parents, parent committees and governing councils to help them to understand the importance of sun protection and how to address it at their site. The information sessions can also be used towards meeting the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

Cancer Council regularly visits regional areas to conduct regional SunSmart presentations. Prior to arrival, sites will be made aware of a regional SunSmart session via email.

To book a free information session for your staff and parents, or if you would like to host a regional information session call 08 8291 4356, email sunsmart@cancersa.org.au or fill in a form via our website.

Cancer Council has a range of resources that are free to download or order from our website. They include:

Curriculum resources

Promotional resources

  • Early childhood
  • Primary schools and OSHC services
  • Secondary schools
  • Workplaces

Sun protective clothing

Students participating in sporting activities on behalf of the school will often spend large amounts of time outdoors at sports days, carnivals and interschool sports competitions. Sleeveless tops are not recommended as they will not provide enough protection to the skin. Sleeveless tops should ideally be replaced with tops which are loose fitting, closely woven and include longer style sleeves and a collar.

Transitioning from sleeveless sports tops to a top with sleeves will not significantly increase the risk of heat stress and will offer more protection to the skin against UV radiation.

Sunscreen

Some DECD sites may choose to provide sunscreen for staff and children however there are other options if this is not practical. These include having sunscreen on the booklist or asking each family to provide a named SPF 30 or higher, broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen for their child which is kept in a bag, locker or tray.

If your DECD site provides sunscreen and some students/children are sensitive to it, it is recommended that the family provides a suitable SPF 30 of higher, broad spectrum, water resistant alternative that is named and kept onsite.

Children who are unable to use sunscreen for medical reasons may need to have a doctor’s certificate and will need to be kept covered by hats and clothing and under the shade during terms 1, 3 and 4.

Hats

Having a hat available on the uniform list is the easiest way to get students to wear an appropriate hat which also matches the uniform. Primary and secondary schools are strongly encouraged to include an affordable broad brimmed, bucket or legionnaire hat on their uniform list for students and staff. It is not recommended that schools have a cap on their uniform list.

Early childhood education and care services can include a suitable hat on the uniform list if they have one or communicate with families about appropriate hats they will be required to provide for their child/children.

Caps do not provide adequate protection to the face, neck and ears and are not recommended. Cancer Council recommends making a broad brimmed, bucket or legionnaire hat available on the uniform list and phasing out the use of baseball caps. Baseball caps should be removed from the uniform list and uniform shop.

Caps do not provide adequate protection to the face, neck and ears and are not recommended. Often the issue of hats flying off is fixed by having a hat that is able to be adjusted or fastened such as bucket hat, broad brimmed hat or legionnaire hat. Having different sized hats available to purchase means that children/students can get a well-fitted hat.

Families may need to purchase a bigger broad brimmed, bucket or legionnaire hat to fit over the headdress.

As hijabs are already very covering, it may be useful to recommend a visor that the children or students can wear over the top of the hijab which shades their whole face.

Previously many secondary schools have not enforced sun protection with their students so the procedures and expectations will be new and may present some challenges around compliance.

There are many ways to support students to wear hats and other forms of sun protection. Strategies include staff and student leaders who role model hat-wearing, consulting with the student leadership groups to choose a suitable sun protective hat (which is broad brimmed, legionnaire or bucket style), positive reinforcement, making hats mandatory the same way the school uniform is mandatory, SunSmart lesson plans in the curriculum and having a promotional period to increase knowledge about sun protection. There are also other options that you are welcome to discuss with the SunSmart Team.

The new sun protection practices won’t happen immediately and the school community may prefer to slowly introduce practices over time so that students and families can adjust to the change gradually.

The SunSmart Team at Cancer Council SA can provide free support to secondary schools in a variety of ways including:

  • support and advice developing a sun protection procedure
  • support and advice regarding implementing in a step-wise approach
  • curriculum resources and promotional materials to educate students
  • professional learning opportunities for staff
  • information sessions for parents and governing council members
  • advice regarding consultation and implementation
  • engaging with student leadership groups
  • ongoing support and advice
  • access to shade audit tools

Shade

Using shade as much as possible when you are outdoors is an important strategy in protecting your skin. Shade from trees and man-made structures (e.g. pergolas, buildings) offer some protection from UV radiation but do not totally block it out. UV radiation can still be reflected off the ground and buildings around you, even under dense shade.

Always use shade as well as sun protective clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen for maximum protection from UV radiation.

Using shade as much as possible when you are outdoors is an important strategy in protecting your skin. Cancer Council recognises that shade can be a significant financial investment and it may take time to secure funding to increase shade. Funding shade should remain a priority of the school and governing council or early childhood education and care service and parent committees.

If you do not currently have adequate shade there are a few options you can consider to reduce the risk of overexposure to UV radiation by:

  • rescheduling outdoor activities and lessons outside of the peak UV times of the day (10 am to 2 pm or 11 am to 3 pm daylight savings time) when the UV radiation levels will be at their highest
  • utilising existing shade as much as possible by setting up activities under shade, placing seating under shaded areas for break times, moving play equipment under the shade or redirecting play to shaded areas
  • conducting PE lessons that must occur across the middle of the day in a gymnasium or multi-purpose room where possible
  • lengthening the recess break and shortening the lunch break so children and students are outside for less time when the UV radiation levels will be at their highest.

Conducting a regular shade audit can assist sites to determine the quality and need for shade. The audit results will help you determine where shade improvements need to be made after which you can start to explore solutions for reducing UV exposure such as changing the way the site is used, making existing shaded areas more appealing or investing in new shade development.

A shade audit tool is available online www.sunsmart.com.au/shade-audit/

As Cancer Council SA is a not-for-profit charity, there are no provisions to fund shade projects. If and when funding for shade becomes available, eligible sites will be notified via email correspondence.

Please note that sites are more likely to be short listed for funding if:

  • they have an active sun protection policy in terms 1, 3 and 4 and when the UV is 3 and above
  • the policy addresses a combination of sun protection practices
  • the uniform recommended is sun protective, including the hat

Sunglasses

Using close fitting, wraparound sunglasses that meet AS/NZS 1067:2003 (Sunglasses: lens category 2, 3 or 4) is an important sun protection strategy. However if it is not suitable or safe to wear sunglasses, wearing a broad brimmed hat that shades the eyes and using shaded areas can reduce UV radiation to the eyes by 50%.

DECD sites can encourage the use of sunglasses by staff, children and students when the UV is 3 and above however they will not be expected to enforce them.