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OMAHA — The Nebraska Education Department intends to provide school districts with guidance on students' sunscreen use during the school year.

Various districts have wrestled with the issue and have sought state direction, said department spokesman David Jespersen.

The rules vary from district to district.

Parents of Omaha and Lincoln public school students are asked to apply sunscreen to their children before school. If parents want it applied during the school day, they must sign permission slips, provide the sunscreen and tell school officials where the sunscreen should be applied.

Some districts require notes from doctors, and some don't. Some districts have no policies at all.

The state guidance says children should be allowed to possess and use over-the-counter sunscreen approved by the Food and Drug Administration without doctors' notes, and sunscreen need not be stored in specific locations, such as the nurses' office.

The guidance would not be binding on districts, Jespersen said.

The department got involved in the issue after it was raised by a state senator, he said.

Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue introduced a bill in 2018 that would have allowed children attending schools, recreational programs, summer camps and day care programs to use sunscreen.

Blood later dropped the measure but worked with the Education Department to clarify the matter without legislation.

The idea that a parent couldn't send a kid with sunscreen to school seemed like government overreach, Blood said.

The Nebraska State Board of Education is expected to review the guidance at its August meeting, Jespersen said, and Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt likely will distribute it to districts as the school year starts.

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