Sun damage fears in Jersey have led to the cancellation of a popular school day out for hundreds of children.
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.”
The beach day was intended to take place at St Brelade’s Bay on July 11, with all students from nursery to Year 5 in attendance.
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.”
Mr Moore said he made the decision with “regret” as in the past it has been an enjoyable event for the entire student body – with children as young as two in attendance.
“I listened to concerns (about sun exposure) and figures supported by the Health Department,” Mr Moore said. “I had to take a decision and endeavour to safeguard the welfare of the children.”
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.”
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