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Canada Education Wireless Networking

Ontario Teachers' Union Calls For Health-Related Classroom Wi-Fi Ban 365

Posted by Soulskill
from the frying-their-developing-brains dept.
New submitter KJE writes "The CBC is reporting that an Ontario teachers' union is calling for an end to new Wi-Fi setups in the province's 1,400-plus Catholic schools. The Ontario English Catholic Teacher's Association (OECTA) says computers in all new schools should be hardwired instead of setting up wireless networks. The OECTA, in its paper (PDF), said the 'safety of this technology has not thoroughly been researched and therefore the precautionary principle and prudent avoidance of exposure should be practiced.'"
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Ontario Teachers' Union Calls For Health-Related Classroom Wi-Fi Ban

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  • by Lev13than (581686) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:02PM (#39025337) Homepage

    Oh, it gets better.

    In Ontario, Catholic schools are 100% fully-funded public institutions running in parallel with the secular public schools. It's nice to know that my tax dollars are being used to teach kids that gay=bad, safe sex=evil and wifi=devil.

    Other provinces have joined the 21st Century and de-funded religious schools, but all of the political parties in Ontario are too chicken-shit to do the right thing.

  • Re:Two stories (Score:4, Informative)

    by vlm (69642) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:20PM (#39025639)

    3rd story is "The administration is being a PITA, so I'm going to retaliate."

    I have relatives in the system, so I don't know if I'm skirting either a legal or cultural privacy violation, but I know of at least one situation where the union is fighting management with all they got up to and including RF exposure FUD because management and/or IT busted a teacher for unplugging an access point because kids were screwing around online instead of paying attention to her, and that results in trouble tickets and eventually trumped up accusations of "hacking IT hardware" or "intentional vandalism of school property" or however its exactly phrased. And accusations that she should have been "working harder" to police the kids, and countered with she should be able to control her classroom environment just as she's "permitted" by mgmt to control the room lights (oh how nice of them). Then add in the usual corruption, where a young hot single opposite sex of the principal teacher was not busted for doing the exact same thing, whereas the victim is, as you'd expect, the exact opposite demographic and was busted. And the race card has been released, also. Which is probably too much detail, perhaps pinpointing the exact legal case I'm talking about. So we'll stop there.

    My electrical engineering response was that teacher was an idiot for playing with the connectors and cables, should have just wrapped the antenna in tinfoil or bought a wifi jammer off deal extreme or ebay.

    Wifi is something that can be controlled... can be controlled in many ways, by many different people. Therefore a workplace with terminally poisonous control issues, is going to fight viciously over it as if its the most important thing to ever exist. Its like a hyper violent military battle over some ugly little plot of grassland... no one cares about the plot of land as merely a plot of land, its just an excuse for both sides to draw as much blood as possible.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:27PM (#39025769)
    Wifi devices generally transmit in the low milliwatt range; compare this with the power used by a typical public safety trunked system (800MHz not 2.4GHz):

    http://www.qsl.net/n9zia/gbtrunk.html [qsl.net]
    http://w8msp.com/Oakland.html [w8msp.com]

    You are probably being hit with plenty of UHF/microwave radiation when you walk near a police station. Not only that, but your body will absorb more energy at 800MHz than 2.4GHz (the specific absorption rate at 800MHz is higher than at 2.4GHz), so you should be more concerned about your exposure to radiation from public safety systems than from wifi.
  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:28PM (#39025783)

    We've researched it with short wave radio, FM, AM, CB, and even cell phones. We've even researched the health effects of 2.4 and 5.4ghz signals. Wifi falls within this research since it's using the same spectrum and is if anything lower power.

    So... not only is the complaint stupid.... it's also wrong.

    Are they actually upset about this for the stated reason or are they claiming a health reason to justify opposing it for some reason?

    I've dealt with too many of these political issues to take it at face value. There is often something else going on.

  • Re:Woohoo! (Score:2, Informative)

    by zidium (2550286) on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:48PM (#39026089) Homepage

    You sure missed a lot of punctuation and capitalization! Here let me help you! I'll admit, the last sentence fragment was very hard for me to parse.

    I don't know about more jobs. It's total bollocks; that's what it is. Why do these so-called teachers seem like they didn't get any freaking education?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 13, 2012 @06:56PM (#39026199)

    Where's the hypocrisy? I missed that part. The Catholic Church, specifically Catholics, started many of the hospitals we have today. The Mayo Clinic started as St. Mary's and was financed by a nun collecting money. The Church started the university system. The "Big Bang" was first describe by a Catholic monk. Genetics was first explored by a Catholic priest. There are many more examples where the Church not only allowed scientific exploration, but encouraged it.

    I guess I just don't see the hypocrisy except from people like you who don't know history. Yes, Catholic believe sex is for procreation (how that affects this argument, I don't know) and, yes, Catholics respect life. I guess it's just easier to live with your 16th Century view of what Catholicism it than read what is actually true.

  • by Sipper (462582) on Monday February 13, 2012 @08:08PM (#39026885)

    >Yeah, same frequency as WiFi, dude

    No it isn't.
    WiFI 2.4GHz
    DECT 1.9GHz

    Even if the frequency ranges aren't the same, in the context of safety concerns, both of the above frequency ranges are in the same ballpark. Interestingly if you read the IEEE C95.1 report (which is difficult to get a copy of) you'll find that the most concervative levels of concern are somewhere around 5 to 10 W/m^2, and that includes a 10:1 safety margin of the actual power density levels of concern for controled invironments. [If you find the report, see Figures 3 and 4.] However if you want to understand RF exposure, a good place to start that is readily accessible is right at the FCC: http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/rf-faqs.html [fcc.gov]

    Also for the Original Article to say that Electromagnetic Radiation hasn't been studied enough is dubious and at best a truism, because it's been studied for 60 years. America, Canada, Japan, and the EU all have their own studies and conconclusions about safe electromagnetic levels broken down by frequency ranges. The only known concern is RF heating, and WiFi can't put out enough power for that to be a concern. Cell base stations put out only a small amount of power per sector antenna (typically about 20 Watts) and these antennas have a "pancake" pattern that focuses at the horizon, so even standing right under the base station isn't unsafe. You have to be three feet in front of the base station antenna before it would be unsafe -- and for that to happen you'd have to be right in front of it on the tower. The cell phone right against the head is a lot stronger amount of RF exposure than a cell phone base station right across the street is.

    There's a LOT of general misunderstanding of "RF exposure", which usually comes out as "we don't understand it enough" in some form. To an extent that may always be true, because it's something you can only measure with equipment and is otherwise invisible to a human being. So for some it's hard to understand that low levels of RF exposure is safe.

  • by aXis100 (690904) on Monday February 13, 2012 @09:02PM (#39027439)

    Whilst there may be a potential transmitter every 1.5m2, they are not all transmitting at the same time. In fact each transmitter spends a majority of it's time sleeping, with the receiver listing for a break so that it can implement collision avoidance.

    You are deeply misinformed on this issue and your post is just scaremongering. The overall spectrum use is limited no matter how many people you have, and even then we're talking about an average power of 30mW on a maximum of 3 channels. No-one is getting cooked.

  • by TheRealGrogan (1660825) on Monday February 13, 2012 @11:23PM (#39028453)

    I'm not sorry, chump... the whiners tried that in our district school board (in Ontario) and got put in their place. The same thing will happen here at the provincial level too. It is just not credible. WiFi is not the significant factor here.

    Every kid gets to use a computer now, because they wheel in cartloads of laptops. They can't run ethernet cabling for all of them, everywhere they are to be used on the school grounds. It figures these anal teachers wouldn't be happy until they are back to the stone age. Teachers here are so unrealistic it's not funny... some of the pettiest people I know are teachers.

    The fact that this is a Catholic teacher's union whining on behalf of catholic schools is even more infuriating... because now they suckle the public teat just like the public school system. They still think they get to make their own rules.

  • by skids (119237) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @12:01AM (#39028707) Homepage

    While their reasons are crazy, running wired networks is the better thing to do. Keeps the spectrum clean for devices that actually need to be wireless. A classroom full of WiFi easily saturates to the point where performance degrades, especially when you have a bunch of students all loading material on cue from the teacher. While it's technologically possible to do it right with 5GHz if you control the client hardware selection, that is not what people who try to cut corners using wireless are doing; they chintz on APs as well.

    I've seen a lot of colleges abandon their wire plant in favor of wireless in the dorms and even in the classrooms. Eventually they will end up putting it all back in as PoE is starting to prolifierate, and may make it into laptops as their power envelopes converge with what PoE can offer. At that point, in addition to all the building-integration devices and IP phones, they'll have demand again for wired connections from the end user. Unfortunately by that time, they'll have spent orders of magnitudes more money than a wired plant costs these days into remodeling, during which time they will have unwittingly allowed contractors to cut wires and leave them stranded in the wallboard with no record of where they are situated.

    Wired networks these days are actually pretty cheap. Once you discount the top switches which you need anyway for APs and building integration, access switches can be had for short change.

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