Parents in Winlaw have had the Wi-Fi network in the local elementary school turned off indefinitely. A number of the parents raised concerns with the board of trustees at the Kootenay Lake School District board meeting on the 16h of April, saying that there were effects of Wi-Fi that were possibly detrimental to health.
When interviewed by the Bridge (a radio station), Clare Kelly had this to say: “Many of us requested that the wireless modem at our school be turned off during school hours. We feel that there are no long-term health studies that have been conducted on the effects of wireless frequencies on children or on pregnant women.”
At the same meeting, Jeff Jones, the superintendent, gave voice to a plan to upgrade all schools in the district with wireless technology over a period of two years, in order to provide better learning support for students. This plan had been successful thus far, allowing students who brought wireless capable devices to school an “all-access pass” to the networks. He further went on to say that actual libraries were now an outdated, archaic system, and that wireless was fast becoming the most popular method of getting information.
The board decided to submit to the wishes of the parents of students attending the local elementary school in Winlaw after they voiced their concerns. Jeff Jones said that although the district was following the national health guidelines, people in some communities weren’t quite ready for such leaps in technology.
Because of this, certain minor electrical changes were made in the elementary school in concern, and the Wi-Fi was temporarily turned off. The superintendent was heard to say that were the community perspective on this to change, it could be turned back on.
The parents who had approached the board, Claire Kelly and Colleen Emery said that they were quite happy about how seriously the board had taken them and about how immediate action had been taken. However, Kelly still voices concern over the use of wireless technology which is possibly harmful to general health. She recommended a policy spanning the entire district to remedy this.
In 2011, the Saanich School District 63 banned the use of Wi-Fi in all elementary schools. Kelly is quoted to say: “I am really thrilled that this is becoming a public dialogue. Many of us are investigating what evidence do we have to say this is safe for our children and we don’t have any. As wireless devices become more common, how are we going to respond to that in the context of the schools?”
The superintendent, however, said that there were little concerns from most schools and districts over the installation of Wi-Fi. Jones says that it is now expected that there be wireless technology in most schools and that he thought it should be done in his district as well.