Nothing shady about Jackson nurse’s sun concerns

       Jackson Elementary students can be cool and shady now with a new 20x30-foot fabric awning over the picnic benches on the backside of the school.
       The $7,000 addition, installed last week, is a “shade structure,” according to school nurse Betsy Stringer, who obtained a $10,000 grant to pay for the structure as well as for related support materials.
       “It's great because the structure is right there as kids go out the cafeteria door,” she said. “They can eat out there, or it can be an extra classroom.”
       Principal Anne Dancy was also enthused about the structure. “It gives the children a place that's out of the sun,” she said.
       Stringer's main concern was students' long-term health. “People are exposed to the sun the most when they're kids,” she said. She added that Colorado has one of the higher rates among states for melanoma, a skin cancer that can result from too much sun.
       Stringer, who works at different District 11 schools, got a similar grant for Grant Elementary. “I tried to pick schools that didn't have any shade in back,” she said. At Jackson, “We looked at trees and different things. But trees need maintenance, and there is no watering system.”
       Supported by pvc-type poles, the structure can be taken down when necessary, such as during winter. It will be kept up during the summer for summer school as well as daycare, she said.
       Educational information about sun safety will be provided to students next fall, Stringer said. She is especially concerned about how children dress in bright sun. Hats and sunglasses can help, she pointed out. Through another part of the grant, hats with three-inch brims are being made available to students for a “nominal fee,” Stringer said.

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