File it under “Fear of frying.”
Students from St George’s Preparatory in St Peter normally enjoy an end-of-year beach day but the school decided to cancel the outing, citing warnings about the dangers of mid-day sun exposure.
“In recognition of the Jersey Health department’s advice regarding the dangers of the midday sun, it is with considerable regret that I have decided to cancel our annual day on the beach in July,” Headmaster Colin Moore wrote, informing parents of the decision. “We are busy trying to organise a less exposed alternative event but believe whatever we do the children’s health must take priority.”
Perhaps the children can frolic in a classroom with the shades drawn. Or maybe there’s a cozy cave nearby?
Mr Moore defended the decision today, saying while he believes children should spend time outdoors and enjoy the sunshine, the logistical difficulties of having 210-220 children of various ages on the beach for four hours swayed him toward cancellation.
He pointed out that individual classes still enjoy trips to the seaside — with the school’s reception classes on a rock-pooling trip this week.
“For a class of 20 children, even at the younger ages, you can find shade, perhaps under a tree. If there are concerns, you can call a minibus and go back to the school,” he said.
“With over 200 children, however, if you are on the beach for four hours, you are on the beach for four hours, in the hottest part of the day, and you cannot provide shade for 200-plus children.”
Now, I do understand that this trip presents a challenge and that the sun can burn kids. And it really doesn’t look like there’s a lot of shade at this beach:
But somehow, until this instant, this trip was an annual and presumably enjoyable outing. What’s more, the health department itself tried to shed some light on its generic “beware the sun” warning:
The Health Department said today they encourage balance rather than outright sun avoidance for children.
“HSSD has not provided any advice that would encourage children to completely avoid enjoying the outdoors between the hours of 11 and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest,” said Martin Knight, Head of Health Improvement.
“A balance needs to be struck between children gaining the benefits of sun exposure – including a sense of well-being, synthesis of vitamin D and outdoor physical activity – against the dangers of burning.”
I feel for the headmaster, because once you start worst-first thinking, “What if the kids get sunburned? Or cancer?” nothing seems worth the risk. But that’s what we’re doing all the time — ONLY considering risk, not joy or independence or even convenience, when it comes to our kids. So no foods seem safe enough, no equipment, no strangers, no playground surfacing, no unsupervised time (duh!) and now, no day at the beach.
On the plus side, parents will not have to spill sand out of their kids’ shoes when they get home. – L.