News / Edmonton

Wi-Fi crusaders prompt Edmonton Catholic School board to reconsider technology policies

Two Edmonton parents are hoping to flick the switch on Wi-Fi in local schools, urging the city’s school districts to reconsider current policies for the technology.

Marcey Kliparchuk, a local teacher for Edmonton public, said she was first inspired to research the negative effects of Wi-Fi after learning a cell phone tower was being built next to her school.

Four years later, Kliparchuk and her fellow Wi-Fi crusader Gina Shimoda have prompted Edmonton Catholic Schools to take a look at their current Wi-Fi policy.

At a school board meeting last week, ECS trustee Marilyn Bergstra asked the district’s administration to bring forward recommendations for schools to ensure best practices when using Wi-Fi and devices.

“Although research data in this area remains somewhat inconclusive, it's my belief that we have a duty to act within an abundance of caution when it comes to the responsible use of technology in our schools as it relates, in particular, to the health of students and staff,” said Bergstra.

Fellow trustee Patricia Grell suggested ways Wi-Fi could be used more safely, including designing one school at each division level that was Wi-Fi free.

“I would add to these recommendations that we could consider designing our new schools with hardwired connections rather than wireless technologies and, or install on/off switches in each classroom so the Wi-Fi can be turned off when not in use,” Grell added.

Along with reviewing current Wi-Fi practices, the board approved a plan to reach out to the Alberta School Board Association and lead a symposium on Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Radiation and Wi-Fi technology.