The Ontario English Catholic Teacher’s Association (OECTA) has responded to the rise of Wi-Fi access in schools across Canada, saying that it “may present a potential health and safety risk or hazard in the workplace.”
The union released a statement targeting the increase of wireless devices such as iPads in primary education facilities, writes Adam Jablonowski at The Daily Caller.
Wireless Internet has been made available in 81 school districts in Ontario over the past three years. The practicalities of online learning would seem appealing to many Canadian school districts, which have to deal with remote and widely dispersed student populations.
However, the union’s statement said:
“The safety of this technology has not thoroughly been researched and therefore the precautionary principle and prudent avoidance of exposure should be practiced.”
OECTA President Kevin O’Dwyer explained to the National Post, saying:
“We’re not saying rip them out of the building.
“My sense is that there’s enough doubt out there that we should hold off until there’s more research.”
Iain Martel, chair and spokesperson for the Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism, said that the teachers association is attempting to scare monger parents.
“The OECTA goes overboard in advocating an overly cautious approach to the use of Wi-Fi technology in schools. There is no plausible mechanism by which such technology could cause harm, and no good evidence of any harm.”
There is some science to back the union’s view. For example, the World Health Organization puts radio frequency energy emitted from cellphones and other WiFi connections on the list of things that are possibly carcinogenic to humans.
But they also list coffee, gasoline engine exhaust, night shift work and the pesticide DDT as possibly dangerous.
Una St. Clair, a parent of children in Ontario schools, moved her children into private schools in order to avoid exposure.
“WiFi has been rolled out too fast for science to keep up.”
Union chief, O’Dwyer, said:
“The information [out there] is questionable.
“It’s not definitive. If that’s true — if there’s an alternative to avoid [possible health risks] that is cost effective — why not go there?”
The union is set to make its case about WiFi to individual school boards and the Ontario Labour and Education ministries soon.