Parents of elementary students in Vancouver say they want their voices heard when it comes to installing wireless internet service at their children's schools.
The Vancouver School Board is rolling out plans to install the service at high schools this fall, and then move wireless into elementary school as soon as the end of this school year.
But that plan doesn't sit well with some parents, according to Jennifer West, the co-chair of the District Parent Advisory Council for Vancouver
"One of the challenges we face with new and emerging technologies is that information changes...So there's caution especially with very young children," said West.
"It's not usual to have kids exposed to frequencies all the time. Some parents don't like that. Within our own homes we have the choice whether we want Wi-Fi and microwaves and cellphones. Once the kids go to school that's outside the realm of what parents may deem appropriate for their own kids," she said.
District defends Wi-Fi rollout
But not installing wireless could put children at an educational disadvantage, according to Maureen Ciarniello, an associate superintendant with the VSB.
"I think when you're of a certain generation like I am, maybe that we think these devices aren't integral to the children's learning. But that day has gone past. It is integral, and it's only going to evolve," said Ciarniello.
"We need to acknowledge the fact that the use of mobile devices in some fashion is actually a part of children's lives. Most children are using some device. Maybe not in an internet fashion, but they're using it to play games or as a learning device and there may be some times when they need internet access."
Ciarniello says consultations with parents of elementary school children will take place over the coming months and all existing provincial guidelines around cellular and Wi-Fi signals will be followed as the process unfolds.
The school district is currently seeking a contractor to provide wireless service at 100 sites.