In Ontario there's been a bit of a kerfflufle lately over WiFi in public schools. It started when some parents in a town north of here claimed that their kids were getting sick in school because of radiation from WiFi networks. One parent (Patricia Naylor) claimed the she and one of her children were very sensitive to radiation. She formed the "Safe School Committee" to lobby for a ban on WiFi.
The claims have received considerable media attention leading to the inevitable spread of the problem as more and more parents "recognize" that their children suffer from nausea and lethargy in school and it must be due to radiation. A group of teachers almost supported a ban on WiFi in response to these parents.
The latest round occurred at a conference of The Ontario Elementary Teachers Federation where they voted down a resolution banning WiFi [Teachers not joining Wi-Fi fight].
The money quote comes from a trustee ...
Collingwood/Clearview Trustee Caroline Smith said the board must balance free speech with science, education and access to technology.Let's hope that puts an end to this silliness.
"In this case, a very small group of people came forward and actually one person brought forward a concern. Normally a school board can say ‘thank you’ (and stop at that). We said thank you and asked staff to do additional research. We brought in a scientist," she said.
"We allowed a second series of deputations (including Naylor in April) to come forward and we listened again," she said, adding she then put forward a motion asking for the education and health ministers for advice.
"We want our children to have the most modern pathways to education. We don’t want to tie their hands (by not giving them access to the technology that’s available)," she said.
The board’s program committee chairman, Trustee Rob North called the Safe School Committee’s stance "bizarre" in a blog, and criticized the group for relying on studies by a botanist which have not been peer-reviewed.
"It’s time to shut this down, folks. Junk science simply cannot be allowed to influence public policy decisions. Wireless technology, installed and operated correctly, is perfectly safe. The World Health Organization, Industry Canada, Health Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Health and countless others who have access to people who are experts in the fields of biology, electrical engineering and so on have deemed it to be safe," said North.
"I can tolerate people’s eccentricities for a while. I can wait while people vent about perceived injustices for hours on end. I can sit by and let some folks try to salvage their long lost credibility for a bit. But at the end of the day, sometimes you just have to look people squarely in the eyes and tell them, ‘I’m sorry, you’re wrong.’"