Author: A.Furtado, Citizen Journalist
You can’t slow progress, right? But as technology changes, a question remains, should schools switch to a wireless connection for internet access in order to keep up with technology?
That question was considered during an information session held on Saturday, January 22 at Lochside School by the nonprofit organization, Citizens for Safe Technology. The group presented an alternative view regarding this controversial issue. Citizens for Safe Technology clarified that they were not “against technology”, but rather they were advocating that parents become fully informed before allowing their schools to use powerful microwave radiation to transmit information throughout the building.
Concerned parent, Karen Weiss, said, “Parents are under increasing pressure to go with this trend. All parents want the best for their kids, but what they don’t realize is that a wireless connection is not going to make them smarter or give any technological advantages over a hard wired connection. In fact, there are many peer reviewed studies emerging that suggest that long term exposure of low level Wi-Fi radiation can cause serious biological effects.” Karen Weiss explained that her son was diagnosed with “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity.”
According to Karen Weiss, Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity is a condition recognized by the World Health Organization and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It causes extreme physiological changes in those individuals exposed to Wi-Fi, with effects including headaches, nausea and increased heart rates. This leaves parents like Karen Weiss wondering where their children might go to school if it becomes blanketed in Wi-Fi radiation.
A January 24th A-Channel news report stated that School District 61 committee chairperson George Ambeault said that Wi-Fi allows flexibility in classrooms as far as the types of equipment that can be used and the various methods of accessing the Internet and other data.
However, the school district’s move is not without “pushback” from concerned citizens. As a result, the school district agreed to hold three public committee meetings to consider a range of information before moving forward on Wi-Fi, the last of which is being held this month.
Some parents cannot understand why the school district would consider such controversial technology when countries like France are removing Wi-Fi from schools and public buildings.
According to the November 2, 2010 minutes of the Arbutus School Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting, it was agreed to spend $10,000.00 on converting Arbutus School to wireless in order to meet the school district’s one-time offer of matching funds for a wireless system. The minutes continue, “that the teachers would have laptop and, potentially, iPad access in classrooms” and that the school district believed the wireless technology was “safe”. The minutes also indicate that a decision had to be made by the PAC before the end of November or risk forfeiting the matching funds.
Many parents and staff have urged the Arbutus PAC to reconsider their support for installing the wireless system and to exercise the “Precautionary Principle”, which states that, “when science has not yet determined whether a product is safe or unsafe, policy should prohibit or restrict its use until it is known to be safe.”
According to electrician and Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) consultant Walt McGinnis, “Canada has lax standards when it comes to protecting the public from electromagnetic radiation such as that emitted from a wireless router. Health Canada allows an exposure level 100 times greater than countries like China, Russia and Italy.” Una St. Clair-Moniz, Executive Director of Citizens for Safe Technology Society, explained during the January 22 meeting that some insurance companies have eliminated coverage of Wi-Fi related claims to avoid future losses.
“Wi-Fi Routers will emit radiation throughout the entire school all day long, just as cell towers do. Something is very wrong when our health authorities allows students and teachers to be exposed to levels of Wi-Fi radiation hundreds of times above what is shown to cause illness,” said McGinnis.
The last public committee meeting about Wi-Fi prior to a decision is scheduled for February 28th, 2011, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM and will be located at 556 Boleskine road.