A main concern for parents sending their children to school is safety. When we think of safe schools, we may think of fire drills, peanut-free policies, bullying prevention, and so on. However, an important aspect of school safety that parents may overlook is exposure to UV radiation.

While the use of daylighting in schools has a positive impact on students’ academic performance¹, the increased amount of sunlight shining through windows at school may increase students’ exposure to UVA radiation, which is not completely blocked by glass, and is associated with the development of skin cancer².

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As parents, we can advocate for the implementation of UV-protective windows in our children’s schools. In the meantime, we should communicate with our children about their school environment, and ask them if they sit near a window, and if their classroom is sunny throughout the day. If students are required to spend lengthy amounts of time (i.e., 2 hours or longer) in a sunny part of their classroom, we should encourage schools to implement UV-protective windows in parts of the building that receive this sun exposure. Children with fair skin (i.e., skin type 1 or 2) are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer, so it may be wise to send them to school with sunscreen to minimize their health risk. Make sure your sunscreen of choice is labeled as “broad-spectrum”. Sunscreens that don’t offer broad-spectrum protection only protect against UVB rays, and not UVA rays, which are the rays that sneak through glass.

To find out more about how to keep your kids sun safe at school, check out our previous post.

  1. Plympton, P, Conway, S & Epstein, K 2000, ‘Daylighting in Schools: Improving Student Performance and Health at a Price Schools Can Afford’, paper presented at the American Solar Energy Society Conference, Madison, Wisconsin, 16 June. Retrieved September 6, 2016
  2. Skin Cancer Foundation. (2013). UVA & UVB. Retrieved September 6, 2016