This is an H3
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, 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:
- Identify Stakeholders
- Find groups that may have an interest in, or will be affected by, the resulting plan.
- Assemble the Shade Planning Team
- Representatives from the stakeholder groups should be included on the planning team.
- Conduct a Shade Audit
- The audit will help the planning team determine how much shade is currently accessible on the school grounds and if more is needed. The Audit consists of:
- Stakeholder Interviews
- Obtain a site plan and ask stakeholders about the outdoor environment.
- Interviewees can refer to activities in relation to designated zones on the plan and features of the school grounds.
- Interviewers can record the information directly onto the plan.
- Behavioral Observations
- Observe outdoor activities conducted on the school grounds and document the usage patterns of students, teachers, and staff.
- Environmental Observations
- Record the distances between the various buildings and play equipment.
- Name different zones, document any significant topographical features, boundaries of the school’s property, which direction is north, and whether it is magnetic north or true north.
- Make notes regarding the surfaces and finishes of each building and play area on the school grounds.
- Inventory each tree and planted area on the school grounds. Trees should be numbered on the site plan, and a separate set of notes should record the team’s findings.
- Measure the amount of shade being cast on the grounds.
- Assessing the Findings
- Analyze the quantity and quality of shade that is accessible on school grounds, and determine if and where additional shade is needed.
- Decide on Shade Design
- Based on the shade audit, the planning team should present its recommendations in text and graphic format to the Board.
- Find Funding
- At the same time that the planning team is finalizing the shade design, team members can explore potential funding sources and volunteer resources for the project.
- Make it happen
- Purchase the type of shade needed for the school grounds and implement its use where needed.
Some other ideas for incorporating permanent shade on school property:
- Assess your grounds to determine where shade is needed and what is feasible. Outdoor lunch areas, playgrounds, and school bus or parent pick-up areas are good locations for shade.
- Plant trees in open spaces where shade is needed and will be used.
- Establish an Arbor Day tradition, including a tree-planting ceremony and educational activities promoting the benefits of trees. Local nurseries may offer discounts to schools.
- Erect temporary and permanent shade structures in open spaces where shade is needed and where it will be used.
- Cover playground equipment with shade cloth.
- Mount umbrella stands on picnic tables in outdoor lunch areas.
- Encourage students to use shaded areas.
- Plan outdoor activities for shaded areas.
- Hold fundraising activities to purchase shade structures or trees.
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.
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.