Background: In 2002, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that schools adopt policies that reduce exposure of children to ultraviolet radiation to prevent skin cancer. We report here the development of a school sun-safety policy measure and baseline descriptive statistics from the assessment of written policies collected in 2005-2007 from public school districts that enrolled in a randomized trial evaluating a policy promotion program. METHODS: Written policies were collected from 103 of 112 school districts in Colorado and Southern California prior to randomization. We developed methods for selecting policy headings/sections topics likely to contain sun-safety policies for students and for assessing the presence, strength, and intent of policies. Trained coders assessed the content of each policy document. RESULTS: Overall, 31% of districts had a policy addressing sun safety, most commonly, protective clothing, hats, sunscreen, and education at baseline. More California districts (51.9%) had these policies than Colorado districts (7.8%, p < .001). Policy scores were highest in districts with fewer Caucasian students (b = -0.02, p = .022) in Colorado (b = -0.02, p = .007) but not California (b = 0.01, p = .299). CONCLUSION: The protocol for assessing sun-safety policy in board-approved written policy documents had several advantages over surveys of school officials. Sun-protection policies were uncommon and limited in scope in 2005-2007. California has been more active at legislating school policy than Colorado. School district policies remain a largely untapped method for promoting the sun protection of children.
- Sun safety