Ontario School replaces Wi-Fi with Wired Internet

September 9, 2011.  Another school has decided not to play Russian roulette with the health of students and staff.

Pretty River Academy, a private school in Collingwood, Ontario, with 150 students attending kindergarten to Grade 12 replaced wireless internet access (Wi-Fi) with wired ethernet before the start of the 2011 academic year.

This school follows in the footsteps of other schools that have replaced Wi-Fi or that refused to have it installed in the first place.

Students and teachers were encouraged to do research on the best technology for the school and they decided wired internet access was superior to wireless for all sorts of reasons, including health issues.

According to CTV news,

Principal Roberta Murray-Hirst says the new hard-wired Internet system is actually faster than their previous system and gives teachers control over when students can go online.

Murray-Hirst said they did not receive any complaints from students or parents about health concerns but decided to take the precaution anyway.

“We like to be proactive and obviously safety is always a concern,” she said.

Andy Oudman and Pam Killeen (1290 AM CJBK in London, Ontario) interviewed Principal Roberta Murray-Hirst.  Click here to listen to interview.

The Elementary Teachers of Ontario (ETFO) at their AGM in August 2011 in Toronto resolved to further investigate/research the issue of Wi-Fi in schools at the provincial executive level due to increasing concern by the ETFO members themselves throughout Ontario. This concern about Wi-Fi in the schools was brought forward by a resolution made by teachers from the Niagara Board.

One local teacher told me that,

“Teachers and parents were not consulted when the Ontario Board of Education decided to install Wi-Fi in public schools.  Since concerns were raised about Wi-Fi routers, these routers are installed/concealed behind ceiling tiles so that no one knows where there are.

Routers are turned on 24/7 even in primary classrooms where computers are not extensively used (if at all) and even though most students in both the elementary and secondary schools do not even have access to their own computers or Board owned computers. Boards do not permit routers to be turned on/off as needed for a particular lesson to reduce the radiation.

Boards do not even acknowledge that there is radiation being emitted from Wi-Fi devices nor do they measure or monitor radiation. Boards do not even acknowledge that RF radiation is causing health concerns nor do they accommodate staff who complain that RF is making them feel unwell.

Teachers have been prevented from sharing information with their colleagues about RF radiation by their Boards who tell them not to speak about it. Teachers are made to understand that working in a radiation toxic environment is part of the terms of their employment.”

In a Global 16:9 expose last year, Carolyn Jarvis interviewed students at a Collingwood school who complained of headaches, heart racing, nausea, weakness, tremors, insomnia, rashes that go away on the weekends or when the students are not in school. Click here to watch program.

One student says, he used to love school but now things have changed.  He goes on to say that “they” won’t listen to us kids with “they” being the senior school administrators. Is this the message we want to give kids, that their opinions don’t matter and that their health is irrelevant when it comes to 21st Century Technology?

The Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) presents some guiding principles about how to deal with carcinogens in Ontario.  This applies to the radio frequency radiation generated by Wi-Fi, which the WHO classified as a possible human carcinogen.   Click here for OPHA pdf.  These guiding principles include:

Guiding Principles

Identifiable groups that are vulnerable to environmental carcinogens include, but are not limited to, pregnant women and the unborn, seniors, children and Aboriginals. Standards of safety are needed to account for the greater vulnerability of some groups to environmental carcinogens.

The precautionary principle, which states that action to reduce risk should not wait for scientific certainty, should be adopted in relation to environmental carcinogens.

Carcinogen use reduction planning should take into account the cumulative effects of multiple pollutants, and aggregate carcinogen exposure.

Wherever possible, the creation of pollutants or waste should be avoided or minimized.

Despite this,  Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said wireless Internet posed no threat to children at schools and Health Canada insists Wi-Fi is not a big cause for concern.

“As long as RF energy levels remain below Health Canada’s RF safety guidelines, current scientific evidence supports the assertion that RF energy emissions from Wi-Fi devices are not harmful,” the department said in a statement Thursday.” Click here to read article by Kristy Kirkup in the Toronto Sun.

I find it fascinating that the public school system promotes Wi-Fi, refuses to listen to parents, silences teachers, ignores the research, and can’t get Wi-Fi installed fast enough, even though many of these schools already have a wired system, so the Wi-Fi is redundant. It seems that they were allotted money for this (money that can’t be used for anything else) and every school is following like sheep to the slaughter.

Several private schools, in contrast, are either not installing Wi-Fi or are removing it because of health concerns. This is true not only in North America but also in Europe.  I certainly know which school I would want my children to attend. It is a no brainer.

I expect these private schools are also teaching their students to think independently, to question authority, to believe in their own convictions and not be lead down the garden path. If public schools are teaching independent thinking, they are certainly not walking their talk.

School Boards are demanding that their decision not be challenged and the jobs of principals and teachers are at stake if they request that they be able to turn off the base station signal when it is not being used.  This type of tyranny is simple not acceptable in our Canadian education system.

Who is behind this push to make all schools in North America wireless?  Why the rush?  Where is the money coming from and who is getting paid?  Why can schools NOT opt out of Wi-Fi in favor of ethernet?  How many sick kids are needed before the Ontario Medical Officer of Health and Health Canada will listen to the people and to the scientists?  Why is there no choice and why is open debate stifled?

A group called the Safe Schools Committee continues to push for a ban of Wi-Fi and wants to minimize children’s exposure to radio frequency radiation.

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