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Whether you plant it, move it, or build it, shade is an easy way to keep students protected from the sun. Students and staff spend anywhere from one to three hours outside during the school day. Students can benefit from shade while they are outside for activities or just waiting for the bus. Trees, large umbrellas, tents or permanent shade structures can all provide shade to students and staff. Shade can be low cost to install and can decrease air-conditioning energy costs for schools.

A shade policy can describe how schools can ensure that a percentage of all school grounds are shaded. Shade policy can also recommend the addition of shade structures in new construction and renovations within the district.

Keep in mind that shade is an effective sun safety measure, but it will not block all UV rays. Indirect rays can scatter in the atmosphere and reflect from surfaces such as concrete, sand and grass, therefore other sun protection measures should be recommended.

Major construction projects to build permanent shade require funding, but school and community partnerships can support these actions. Districts can apply for grant funding and ask for financial support from businesses. Schools can enlist the help of parents, community members and local businesses that might sponsor sun safe additions to schools and school grounds.

Learn more about how to create beneficial shade at schools with the CDC’s new in-depth publication, Adobe Acrobat Shade Planning for America’s Schools.

Adapted from the manual, here is a quick list of things you will need to do to get started:

Some other ideas for incorporating permanent shade on school property:

It is important to note that shade does not offer 100% protection from the sun. This is because the sun's rays reflect off of many surfaces and can reach you in the shade. For example, fresh snow reflects up to 88% of UV, two-day old snow reflects up to 50%, lawn grass reflects up to 2%, concrete sidewalks reflect up to 8%, asphalt reflects up to 9%, and dry sand reflects up to 18%. For these reasons, it is very important to develop a multitude of sun-safe habits.

Looking for Shade Devices? Click here to find out about product manufacturers.

Have more questions about shade? Check out Skin Cancer 101 - Shade.


Fast Facts

In 1998, 73% of elementary schools in a national survey reported having at least one shade structure on school grounds.1 In a 2002 survey, 59% of middle and high schools reported having at least one shade structure.2

Students and staff spend one to three hours outside during the school day, on average.3,4

1Buller DB, Geller AC, Cantor M, Buller MK, et al. Arch Dermatol. 2002 Jun;138(6):771-4.

2Buller DB, Buller MK, Reynolds KD. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006;54:427-32.

3Foltz AT. J Pediatr Health Care.1993;7:220-225.

4Buller DB, Callister MA, Reichert T. Oncol Nurs Forum. 1995;22:1559-1566.

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