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Teacher Unions on Wi-Fi in School

May 17, 2017

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Unions are taking action on the health effects of wireless in the classroom.  

Some examples include:


Detailed List of Actions by Teacher and Staff Unions 

2018: United Educators of San Francisco passed a resolution on safer technology that calls for the California cell phone guidance to be disseminated to students and staff. United Educators of San Francisco represents more than 6,000 employees of the San Francisco Unified School District including teachers, nurses, paraeducators, counselors, instructional aides, substitutes, psychologists, therapists, social workers and speech pathologists throughout San Francisco.

The resolution, expected to be on the Labor-Management Health and Safety Committee agenda for review and planning of next steps, calls for: 

  • A discussion of the CDPH cell phone guidelines
  • The development of best practices for mobile devices to reduce RF in San Francisco schools 
  • Publishing the CDPH cell phone guidelines through various outlets for all San Francisco educators and parents
  • Posting RF safety guidelines in every classroom 

The resolution became official as of May 23rd, 2018 and the “Resolution on Enhancing Technology Safety in San Francisco Unified School District”and press release be found on UESF website.

Watch the webinar for the UESF teachers “Enhancing Technology Safety in the Schools”November 2018 with Dr. Cindy Russell that reviews the resolution and details how schools can reduce exposure to radiofrequency radiation.

2016: New Jersey Education Association (NJEA )published the article  “Minimize health risks from electronic devicesin the September 2016 NJEA Review. Adrienne Markowitz and Eileen Senn detail how to reduce physical health risks from devices including risks from radiation exposure:

  • “Keep devices away from the body and bedroom.
  • Carry phones in briefcases, etc., not on the body.
  • Put devices on desks, not laps.
  • Hard wire all devices that connect to the internet.
  • Hard wire all fixed devices such as printers, projectors and boards.
  • Use hard-wired phones instead of cell or cordless phones.
  • Text rather than call.
  • Keep conversations short or talk in person.
  • Put devices in airplane mode, which suspends EMF transmission by the device, thereby disabling Bluetooth, GPS, phone calls, and WiFi.
  • Use speaker phone or ear buds instead of holding the phone next your head.
  • Take off Bluetooth devices when not using them.”
  • Read the online NJEA article  “Minimize health risks from electronic devices
  • PDF of NJEA article Recommendations 

2016: Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation

The Federation has issued a new call for a  moratorium on WIFI and in the Limestone School District and they have taken the issue to the school trustees in that District. “The Teacher Union’s president says there is a growing mountain of evidence that WIFI can pose health risks.”  Andrea Loken/OSSTF District President stated in a 3/2016 news interview that, “There are thousands of published peer reviewed papers that are indicating adverse health effects from WIFI and we are seeing an increased awareness around this issue worldwide.”

2016: Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario

A 3/2016 News Report states that they are calling for a “WIFI moratorium until further health studies are done, and lawmakers can catch up with new regulations.”

2014 New York State Teachers Union NYSUT: A federation of more than 1,200 local unions.

“We have enough evidence to justify taking action and we are not willing to wait until our members, their children and the students suffer health consequences from not doing anything,”-Paul Pecorale, Vice President of the New York State United Teachers Union.

2014 United Federation of Teachers (Teachers, nurses and professionals working in New York City).

In 2014 their Wireless Radiation Webpage stated“Wireless radiation is emitted by the myriad of wireless devices we encounter every day. It was once thought to be relatively harmless. However, we now know that wireless radiation can cause non-thermal biological effects as well, including damage to cells and DNA, even at low levels.

Curiously in March of 2016, this statement was removed and replaced with new text mimicking FCC verbiage.However the site still posts how to reduce exposure.

2019 National Educational Association Resolution on Toolkit for Screentime

  • The  National Education Association (NEA) passed a resolution to compile a toolkit for educating children and families on the physiological, social-emotional, and behavioral effects of screen time on children.
  • Read about this Resolution in NEA Newsletter (new business item 10)

2014 National Education Association

  • Section C-19 of the NEA 2013-2014 Resolutions
  • “The National Education Association believes that all educational facilities must have healthy indoor air quality, be smoke-free, be safe from environmental and chemical hazards, and be safe from hazardous electromagnetic fields.”
  • “Students and/or their parents/guardians, education employees, and the public should be notified of actual and potential hazards.”
  • “School districts should conduct periodic testing for harmful water and airborne particles/agents that are detrimental to the health of students and education employees and shall report the results publicly.”
  • “The Association also believes in the development and enforcement of health and safety standards specifically for children.”

2013 Canadian Teacher Federation’s Brief (200,000 elementary and secondary school teachers)

2013 United Teachers of Los Angeles, representing 40,000 teachers and staff

  • Resolution passed: “I move that UTLA will abide by current National NEA Policy for Environmentally Safe Schools which states that all employees and stakeholders should be informed when there are changes in their exposure to environmental hazards including electromagnetic radiation and that all stakeholders and the public should be notified of any actual and potential hazards. UTLA will advocate for technological solutions that maintain technology upgrades while not increasing employees exposure to electromagnetic radiation.”
  • Health and Human Services Committee 3-6-13 #1: Moved by Kevin Mottus, seconded by John Cabrera.
  • UTLA Newsletter editorial by social worker Kevin Mottus.

2013/2014 Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario Issued a position statement.

“There is cause for concern for members’ health and safety, especially women,” said Sandra Wash, a teacher representing the Peel district when the Federation issued a 2014 position statement supporting  an Expert Panel recommendation that Health Canada provide the public with more information about radiofrequency energy, and the safe use of wireless technology.

ETFO voted to:

  • Turn cell phones off in classrooms
  • Label the location Of Wi-Fi access points.
  • Research Radio Frequency radiation.
  • Develop a hazard control program related to wireless microwave radiation through JHSC.

2013 BC Teachers Federation adopted Wireless Resolutions and Proposed Resolutions

 

2012 The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (45,000 Ontario teachers)

  • Read the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association Position Statement here. 
  • The Teacher Association recommends a wired infrastructure as WIFI “may present a potential Health and Safety risk or hazard in the workplace…The safety of this technology has not thoroughly been researched and therefore the precautionary principle and prudent avoidance of exposure should be practiced.”
  • “Controls for WiFi would best be guided by the ALARA principle (As Low As Reasonably Achievable), as well as by applying the concept of prudent avoidance (of non-ionizing radiation).”
  • Read CBC News article 

2010 UK VOICE: The Union for Education Professionals-20,000 members

2010 Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association (GVTA)

“The GVTA recommends a precautionary approach to the School District with regard to provision of wireless internet in schools. The precautionary approach comes from the environmental movement and has been adopted as common practice in areas regarding potential environmental, ecological or biodiversity damage. It suggests that the lack of significant evidence is not enough of a reason to be unconcerned. The fact that many other countries have instituted regulations to protect children, seniors, pregnant women and other susceptible populations should be the guide for a District policy on WiFi installation and use in the worksites.”

The GVTA Wireless in Schools Webpage states now that:

  • Wi-Fi free zones should be available.
  • On/Off routers recommended and record any adverse Wi-Fi health effects.
  • Minimal or non-use within elementary schools.

2008 Lucerne Elementary Secondary Arrow Lakes District SD 10 New Denver BC, Canada Opts for “No WI-FI

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