Thursday, 23 April 2015

Victoria School Board Presentation April 13th 2015

Motion: That School District No. 61 ( Greater Victoria ) establish an Ad Hoc committee as per Bylaw 9140, ‘Technology Stewardship’ for the purpose of developing guidelines for the safer use of technology for our students and staff. 

Before beginning our presentation, we would like to take a moment to draw your attention to the fact that Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 is currently under investigation by the Parliamentary Health Committee.  Your handouts include a fact sheet from the first of three committee sessions and a letter to Health Canada from the non-profit Canadians for Safe Technology.
School Board Presentation
April 13, 2015
Good evening trustees,
My name is Camille Victoire and this is Janice Boothman. We are parents at Margaret Jenkins Elementary School.
We are here tonight in support of the motion to establish a Technology Stewardship Committee.  Both Janice and I have extensive experience in Information Technology and fully understand its benefits.  At home we use various technologies as tools to support our childrens’ learning.  We also recognize the vital importance of using these tools responsibly and in a safe manner.
YOUR mission statement is: The Greater Victoria School District is committed to each student's success in learning within a responsive and safe environment.
We are all aware that the use of wireless technologies may have long term health consequences.  The World Health Organization designated EMF in the 2B possible carcinogen category.  To ensure  the school environment is safe, as per your mission statement, the School Board MUST actively monitor new information from all reputable sources including The World Health Organization, Health Canada, and the GOLD standard of science:  peer reviewed research.   This is a daunting responsibility, but critical to safeguard the health of 18,000 students in the district. .
As you can see in your handout, we cannot rely on Health Canada alone to protect our children.  Health Canada’s history has proven to be slow in reacting and we only need to look at their delayed response to thalidomide and asbestos to see the devastating consequences of acting too slowly.   We cannot sit on our hands and wait for government to step up, not when the use of these devices is regulated by Industry Canada and driven by trillion dollar industries.
And, is it ethical, or even legal, to put all our faith in a government entity with such a poor track record and willingly turn a blind eye to the warnings we have all heard on this subject?
Switching gears, last Winter, Janice, her husband, and I met with Mr. Pat Duncan.  At the time, it was our understanding that Mr. Duncan was responsible for keeping apprised of all new information on the safety of wireless technologies.  When we met with Mr. Duncan in his office back in February 2014, he made it abundantly clear he does not believe there are any risks associated with the use of wireless technologies. Personally, if I were tasked with having to monitor a risk, where I believe there was NO risk, this would certainly not be a priority for me.   
Who is actively monitoring this information now, and how frequently? 
What is being monitored? 
Is it being documented?
Is the monitoring process documented?  

In view of the considerable stakes, this information should be accessible and available to parents and teachers.  It is imperative that there is accountability and transparency here.
Janice:  The Technology Stewardship Committee is a NECESSITY. Medical and Scientific reports that continue to emerge must be reviewed and compliance with safety guidelines from wireless devices must be achieved.
When I went to pick up my kids at Margaret Jenkins School, just prior to the end of the school day, I walked up the main set of stairs towards the library, and in the hall were 2 girls with iPad.  One was seated with the iPad on her lap, and the other was leaning against the wall with the iPad up against her chest.  This is very concerning because these devices were not being used in accordance with the safety guidelines of the manufacturer of the devices! 
This clearly demonstrates the lack of understanding in the school community about how to use these devices safety, and shows the need for education and guidance. 
Apple’s own manual states”  To be sure that human exposure to RF energy does not exceed the FCC, IC and European Union guidelines, always follow these instructions and precautions: Orient the device…away from your body…
As the Board of Education, you have a responsibility to inform students and faculty about how to properly use devices and technology provided by the schools, and WHY it is important to use them safely.  The Technology Stewardship committee would be able to assist with this.
Camille:  We need you to think about the future of 18,000 children in your charge.  Think about their health and the long term effects of bio-accumulative radiation.  We need the school district to do your DUE DILEGINCE and ensure that safety measures are established, documented, communicated and followed up, and that emerging scientific findings are being reviewed on a regular basis.  We NEED this committee to ensure we are all doing our best to safeguard the health of our children.
Terence Young, a member of Canadian parliament, has recently introduced Bill C-648 into the House Of Commons. This bill “An Act Respecting the Prevention of Potential Health Risks From Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation” would require manufacturers of all wireless devices to place specific health warning labels clearly on the outside of their packaging.
We are hopeful for these small steps in the right direction.
Technology is the way of the future and it is advancing at an impressive rate. A committee driven by passionate individuals who are keen to understand and explore how students can be enriched by the use of the tools in a safe and responsible manner can only benefit us all. Please support this important motion.
Thank you very much!

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