Battle in Edmonton: Latest report suggests Wi-Fi in schools is no threat to students

Posted by Knowlton Thomas

It's become a hot topic over the past year. As a growing number of high schools and even elementary schools start to consider and implement Wi-Fi networks, myriad "experts" have stormed onto the scene—some claiming these Wi-Fi networks are capable of harming the students, and others countering the notion, affirming there is no threat.

In Edmonton, public schools are the middleman of a war between two sides who fervently believe opposite concepts. Quoth The Edmonton Journal:

Wi-Fi networks in schools pose no threat to the health of students, according to a report that will be presented to Edmonton public school trustees on Tuesday.

"We take our lead from the World Health Organization and Health Canada -- they deem it (Wi-Fi) to be safe," said Jane Sterling, communications supervisor for the public school board.

Gina Shimoda has been trying to keep Wi-Fi out of her children's school since September, after she saw a news report about Wi-Fi and public health.

Shimoda and other parents at George P. Nicholson Elementary School have discussed the issue at school council meetings, where she said a majority are against Wi-Fi in the classroom.

Edmonton is certainly not alone in this debate: from the West to East coast, impassioned parents are warring over the safety of Wi-Fi. For example, a school in Ontario recently became the first in Canada to completely remove Wi-Fi from its classrooms. But if Wi-Fi isn't actually a threat, it's very hindering for a school to not have Wi-Fi when others are evolving through its capabilities.

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"We are trying to bring the technology into the classroom for wherever it's needed, as opposed to taking everyone away from the classroom," Glenn Johnson, manager of technology for Edmonton Public Schools, told the Journal, noting that Wi-Fi maximizes the number of students who can have Internet access.

Wi-Fi is also an affordable alternative to wiring every classroom for internet access, as that would cost roughly $30,000 per room, far out of reach for any public school's budget.

As the Journal notes, in April, the House of Commons standing committee on health did conclude that radio-frequency signals emitted by Wi-Fi networks are low enough to be considered safe. But what has an official board and scientific research ever meant to crazy parents? Those who believe that Wi-Fi is harming their children will not easily be convinced, as as more schools push for Wi-Fi, it's easy to think that this battle has only just begun.

Do you believe Wi-Fi is harmful to children?

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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys playing tennis, hiking, and exploring weird side streets. more



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