Action on Wi-Fi, Cell Phones and Cell Towers at School
Parent-teacher organizations have taken a variety of actions to address the health effects posed by cell towers near schools and wireless exposures in schools (from both cell phones and from Wi-Fi networks).
State PTAs have passed resolutions on electromagnetic fields and cell towers. Local PTAs have written letters opposing cell towers, advocated for cell tower setbacks, and worked to inform parents and children about how to reduce wireless exposure and how to use technology in safer ways.
“There is great public concern based on recent studies that electromagnetic fields (EMF) may cause or promote certain cancers;”
“RESOLVED: That the California State PTA educate and inform its districts, councils, and units about the potential hazards of EMFs and encourage school districts and schools to develop risk reduction policies and continue to disseminate information on the subject as it becomes available;”
“Lessons learned from studies on smoking, asbestos, second-hand smoke and radon must not be ignored. We have an obligation to learn from the past and protect our children by reducing their exposure to what is clearly a serious and potential health hazard.”
-California State PTA
Resolution on Electromagnetic Fields
Examples of North American PTAs taking action on cell towers at schools include:
- The California State PTA passed a resolution on electromagnetic fields which references the growing body of research showing EMFs are linked to cancer and resolves to educate and inform decisionmakers and school communities on risk reduction policies.
- The New York State PTA Passed a resolution on cell towers in 2014 supporting legislation that would encourage local communities to regulate the placement of cell tower antennas particularly in schools and supporting continued research into the long‐term effects of radio frequency.
- When a cell tower was proposed at Pacific Grove High School several PTAs educated themselves on the issue and the Forest Grove Elementary, Pacific Grove Middle School PTA, and the Pacific Grove High School PTA all voted to oppose the tower.
- The Hillsmere Elementary School PTA has written several letters to the school board in opposition to cell towers near the school. “While banning cell towers from elementary schools was a critical step in protecting the youngest students, studies show most cell towers were placed at Montgomery County high schools with higher numbers of minorities, and high ESOL and FARMS rates, while schools in more affluent neighborhoods were able to stop such placements.”
Calling for safer technology solutions instead of Wi-Fi:
- The Montgomery County County, Maryland PTA has a Safe Tech Committee focused on students and screens focused on blue light, psychosocial impacts, privacy, and wireless radiation. The PTA’s The Safe Tech group meets monthly with the Chief Technology Officer to address the issues the Safe Tech Committee raises. In turn, the CTO has issued recommendations to parents to keep Chromebooks on a table, turn cell phones off and the CTO also shared the New Jersey Education Association and Maryland Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council recommendations to reduce wireless radiation in the classroom.
- In 2016, the Phoenicia Elementary School PTA (New York) wrote a letter to the Onteora School District calling for the Wi-Fi to be turned off. Parents served the New York Onteora School District Superintendent and Board of Education members notice of their liability concerning the health risks from the wi-fi installation in this New York school district on the March 15, 2016 Board of Education Meeting.
- In 2013 the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils passed two resolutions. One calls on each Board of Education to have one public school at each education level that is free of Wi-Fi, cordless phones, and cell phones. The second calls on the Boards of Education to “cease to install Wi-Fi and other wireless networks in schools where other networking technology is feasible.”
Educating students and parents on safe technology:
Parents at the Castle Hill High School advocated for safer technology and installed special plugs so that the wireless WAP antennas are OFF except when a teacher decides to use them in each classroom. The school has a policy to inform and educate students about cell phones and wireless radiation and officially recommends reducing exposure. They teach students to turn the wireless OFF on their devices. The Castle Hill High School P&C Committee created “Mobile Phone Safety Tips & Cyberbullying Information” which includes recommendations to keep cell phones out of the pocket and to reduce cell phone radiation exposure.
The Montgomery County PTA shares “Safety Tips for Technology” at fairs and school functions.
Calling for sensible cell phone policy in the classroom:
The Fairfax County PTA asked for the school board to update it’s cell phone policy so that cell phones are placed away during instructional time.
Read more about schools that have banned cell phones here.
A List of Actions by Parent-Teacher Organizations
New York State PTA
Passed Resolution on Cell Towers in 2914
- 2014 Resolution: “CELLULAR PHONE TOWERS – 2014 (R‐’07, R‐’00); Resolved that the New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers, Inc. support legislation that would encourage local communities, including parents and school officials, to regulate the placement of cell towers and cell tower antennas particularly in schools and areas where children congregate, and be it further Resolved that the New York State PTA support continued research into the long‐term effects of radio frequency and microwave frequencies on humans especially as they apply to children, and be it further Resolved that the New York State PTA seek to educate parents and school officials as to the current debate over the placement of cell towers and antennas.”- Adopted Resolutions 2014 New York State PTA
California State PTA Resolution on Electromagnetic Fields
The California State PTA has considered the issue of electromagnetic radiation for decades and voted to first issue a resolution in 1994. At that time the federal government and California state public health officials were deeply involved in research on the biological and human health effects of electromagnetic radiation.
In fact, in 2002 the California Department of Health Services scientists who reviewed studies of possible health effects from ELF EMF came to these conclusions: “To one degree or another, all three of the DHS scientists are inclined to believe that EMFs can cause some degree of increased risk of childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and miscarriage…”
The California State PTA Resolution on Electromagnetic Fields does the following:
- Documents that legitimate research exists linking non- ionizing electromagnetic fields to cancer.
- Documents that children are exposed to sources of EMFs in the classrooms and that safer solutions exist for mitigating risk.
- Resolves that the PTA can educate and inform districts, councils, and units about the potential hazards of EMFs to encourage school districts and schools to develop risk reduction policies and to disseminate information on the subject.
Castle Hill High School
2019: Installed special plugs so that the wireless WAP antennas are OFF except when a teacher decides to use them in each classroom. The school has a policy to inform and educate students about cell phones and wireless radiation and officially recommends reducing exposure. They teach students to turn the wireless OFF on their devices.
- “Fact – wireless devices including mobile phones emit microwave radiation (RF-EMR). Human exposure to RF-EMR has increased by more than a billion-fold over the last few decades. Recent scientific evidence has confirmed that currently permitted levels of RF-EMR can cause various effects on living cells including damaging DNA (e.g. National Toxicology Program (NTP) of the USA).
- The following points are shared in the hope of encouraging safer and more responsible use of mobile phones by students. The Precautionary Principle should be instituted when using a mobile phone or any wireless device. Note there is no proof of safety with these devices.
- Mobile phones were first introduced without any pre-market testing for safety. Mobile phones emit Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) and EMR has been classified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a 2B Possible Carcinogen.
- Have you read the fine print? That is, every phone comes with a legal disclaimer warning that the mobile is not meant to be placed directly against the head or the body. Use speakerphone instead.
- Mobile phones should not be placed on your person or in pockets. Studies showing reduced fertility and damaged sperm have been demonstrated when mobiles are placed in pockets or against the body.
- Airplane Mode is your new best friend because it stops the mobile emitting EMR. Always check that Wi-Fi/Blue Tooth is turned off as well for complete protection.
- If the phone is turned into silent mode it will still be emitting EMR. Only Airplane Mode and disabling wireless and/or completely turning off your phone will stop the EMR.
- Consider turning your mobile on only when you need to make a call and consider the use of air tube headsets to assist with exposure minimization.
- Mobile Phones have no place in bedrooms and should not be left on at night. If a mobile is on, it continually and periodically checks for the closest mobile phone tower and this process creates microwave radiation or EMR.
- Mobile phone chargers also emit magnetic fields and should not be placed in bedrooms or near where people spend lots of time.
- Mobile devices should be switched off in cars, buses and all forms of public transport. The metal in the vehicle means it is more difficult for the signal to escape the vehicle and higher levels of radiation result for all passengers. This situation is the same for traveling in lifts.
- Learner drivers and P1 drivers and riders are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all while driving or riding in a vehicle. This is law in Australia.
- Consider texting rather than phoning and note you can send several texts in Airplane Mode so that when typing the text you are not exposed to radiation. Then simply turn your phone on and let the message(s) transmit.
- When playing games on your mobile or listening to music it is essential to use Airplane Mode (see point 4).
- All wireless laptops and tablets emit EMR. When internet access is not required, they should be switched into Airplane Mode (see point 4).”
- (PDF of Castle Hill High School P&C Committee – Mobile Phone Safety Tips & Cyberbullying Information)
Montgomery County County, Maryland PTA
2018 The Montgomery County County, Maryland PTA has a Safe Tech Committee focused on students and screens. These parents are focused on blue light, psychosocial impacts, privacy, and wireless radiation. The PTA Safe Tech Committee shares these resources at their tables and awareness events to educate parents and teachers.
The PTA’s The Safe Tech group meets monthly with the Chief Technology Officer to address the issues the Safe Tech Committee raises.
Here are some of their successes:
1/12/2018 The Chief Technology Officer of Montgomery County Maryland, one of the top School Districts in the country shared information on Digital Device Safety to all staff on Friday, January 12, 2018. Information brought to him by the Montgomery County PTA Technology committee. Read the information here.
“For Students at School:
- Consider placing Chromebooks/laptops on desks and tables rather than in laps;
- Don’t forget to shut down and log off of Chromebooks/laptops when moving from classroom to classroom;
- Consider turning off cell phones and keeping them in backpacks or lockers off when not in use;
- If necessary, take eye breaks, 1-to 2 minutes in length, approximately every 15 minutes;
- Attend to task! Avoid distractions such as reading email, playing games, or browsing the Internet;
- Engage in face-to-face socialization, especially at free time, lunch, and recess;
- Always use the Internet and devices for educational purposes in accordance with MCPS’s responsible use policies;
- Use resources that do not infringe on another’s copyright or trademark rights.
For Students at Home:
- “Disconnect” at least one hour before bedtime. This includes all forms of media and requires online-based homework to be done well in advance of bedtime;
- Keep electronic devices out of bedrooms for a sounder sleep.
- Encourage students, when appropriate, to customize their device screens using tools such as ScreenShader designed to reduce potential eye strain and fatigue
- Consider providing students with options for good behavior that include physical activity and social interaction rather than “device time”;
- When requested, provide paper alternatives for take-home classwork.
- Maryland Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council (CEHPAC):
- New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) Recs on Wireless Radiation
- Read this MEMO shared on the Maryland Montgomery County PTA website here.
Hillsmere Elementary School PTA
- 2017/2018 Hillsmere Elementary School PTA 2017 Letter To Anne Arundel County Opposing a Small Cell Near The School and cites the EMF Scientists.
- Hillsmere Elementary School 2018 PTA Letter To Anne Arundel County Opposing Cell Tower at Shady Side Elementary School Small Cells
Phoenicia Elementary School Onteora School District, New York State
2016: The PTA wrote a letter to the Onteora School District calling for the Wi-Fi to be turned off as a precautionary action
- Watch a video of the School Board Meetings where letter is read here
- Watch videos of parents and students calling for Wi-Fi removal here.
- Read News Report: Some Onteora parents fear Wi-Fi signals in schools are harming their children.
The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils
2013 The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) of 821 Advisory Councils representing over 500,000 parents in British Columbia passed two resolutions.
- Resolution: On/Off switches for WiFi Routers and Protocol for the Use of Wireless Devices
- Resolution 17 “calls on each Board of Education to have one public school at each education level that is free of Wi-Fi, cordless phones, and cell phones. This school will only be equipped with wired computers and wired telephones for personal, educational, and administrative purposes.”
- Resolution 18 calls on Boards of Education to “cease to install Wi-Fi and other wireless networks in schools where other networking technology is feasible.” passed with a clear majority.
Briarlake Elementary PTA
Briarlake Elementary’s PTA voted to oppose cell towers on school campuses in Georgia amidst a heated City conversation that spanned years.
Forest Grove California PTA
Pacific Grove Middle School California PTA
Pacific Grove Middle School (California) PTSA unanimously agreed to oppose the construction of a cell tower near Pacific Grove High School.
Pacific Grove High School California PTA
Pacific Grove High School PTA voted to oppose the cell tower and sent a letter to the planning board.
Conejo Council, California PTA
The Conejo Council PTA made up of 9,000 parents and teachers vote to oppose a cell tower and wrote an editorial in the local paper.
Fletcher Hills California PTA
2011 Resolution submitted to the California State PTA
- “RESOLVED, that the California PTA supports local municipal zoning setback rules of at 1000 feet or more from an operating wireless transmitter and a school or residential area; and be it further
- RESOLVED that the California PTA supports encouraging schools to use cable lines for all communications services on campus and to avoid the endorsement, purchase or use of wireless local area network systems on campus; and be it further
- RESOLVED that the California PTA recommend that teachers and students should limit the use of cellular phones or other mobile devices on school property to emergencies and that cellular phones, pagers, and other mobile phones be turned off and placed out of sight while the individual is on school property”
- Resolution on Wireless Equipment/Cellular Phones and Antennas Read it here.