Wi-Fi recommendations from Victoria parent groupNovember 1, 2013
The use of Wi-Fi and other wireless technologies in schools continues to be a sensitive issue in some parts of the province. But results from a recent survey by the Victoria Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (VCPAC) suggest the vast majority of parents are not worried about potential health risks from Wi-Fi. Indeed, as was noted in the comments section of my Monday post, most parents didn’t bother to complete the survey. Nevertheless, some folks remain concerned about low-level radiofrequency (RF) energy emitted by Wi-Fi and they’ve been very vocal in the Victoria district.
After studying the survey results, VCPAC recommended that the board of education lift its moratorium on Wi-Fi in elementary schools. Here is the letter the group has sent to trustees:
As you are aware, VCPAC recently completed a survey on WiFi in schools. We received 2,875 responses. Based on the number of surveys sent out, this represents a response rate of 21%. We estimate that our survey results are accurate within 2.2%, 99% of the time.
VCPAC held a Special General Meeting on October 29, 2013 to complete our deliberations on the WiFi in schools issue. Delegates from 20 schools were present; 12 elementary, 4 middle and 4 secondary.
The following motion was passed by the delegates.
We recommend to the Greater Victoria Board of Education:
- that WiFi installation be permitted in all schools.
- that each school, prior to installation, must obtain the support of their school community (suggest using Selective Consultation – Policy 1163).
- that the District monitors WiFi research and respond accordingly and promptly.
- that the District maintains the most current technology designed to reduce overall radio frequency and microwave radiation emissions.
- that schools respond to any environmental sensitivities reported by students.
The Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association also wants the blanket Wi-Fi ban lifted, but has called for the designation of Wi-Fi free schools for those who believe they are affected by RF energy. The union also recommends minimal or non-use of Wi-Fi in elementary and middle schools. Find its position here.
Clint Lalonde, a Victoria parent who believes Wi-Fi is “a critical component” in schools and has a blog promoting that position, said he was pleased overall with the VCPAC position but worried about the second recommendation.
“This issue has been acrimoniously debated in our district for close to three years now and has been extremely divisive,” he wrote on his blog.
“By recommending that each school must obtain support of their school community prior to installing wi-fi in schools, I am concerned that we are setting the stage for this battle to trickle down to individual schools, and the battle that has happened at the macro level now becomes micro battles.
“I suspect that should the SD move ahead with these recommendations, this issue will continue to fester and be a divisive issue in our school communities.”
Now it’s over to the school board for a decision.