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20 March 2017

Twenty Questions to the Maryland State Department of Education About the Unsafe Use of Digital Devices in Classrooms

Example of inappropriate position using laptop/tablet.
For one, this child is too young to be using it.  It should
never be held next to the body, but instead, upright on a
table with the head - and eyes - some distance from the
screen.  
Following are the 20 questions asked by a Maryland parent in a letter sent to the Maryland Department of Education Superintendent on unsafe use of digital devices.  View the entire text on Scribd - it contains information on this issue from all over the world.

Twenty Questions to the Maryland State Department of Education About the Unsafe Use of Digital Devices in Classrooms
Sunday, March 19, 2017

Letter to Maryland Department o fEducation Superintendent on Unsafe Use of Digital Devices by Safe Tech For Schools on Scribd

1.Why are you not taking immediate action to ensure safety in classrooms by instructing students and teachers as to keep all electronics off laps?

2.Why are not acting to remove wireless transmitters and wireless devices from the classrooms as the Advisory Council has recommended schools use wired networks.

3.Parents should not be waiting for a Bill to pass before children are protected. Why are you not taking immediate action to ensure safety in classrooms by consulting with medical doctors and developing health and safety guidelines for screen use in a transparent process whereby the science on which such guidance is based on is shared?

4.When new schools are being built - why are you not ensuring that wired rather than wireless internet networks are put in place to eliminate the need for wireless technology? (as recommended by the Advisory Council?)

5.Why are you not taking immediate action to ensure physical safety in classrooms by instructing students and teachers and staff to keep cellphones out of pants pockets bras and away from the body as stated in the user manual?

6.Cell phones should be 100% off in schools because their use exposes not only the user but also nearby students to radiofrequency exposures. Students and teachers are accessing the District network and using the network for educational instruction and therefore the issue of cell phones IS the school system's responsibility.

7.Why are you allowing the use of cell phones and other wireless devices in school buses despite the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations against such use? Please note that the radiation exposure can be intensified in a moving metal vehicle.  

8.Why are you allowing children to place headphones on their ears when research indicates that such accessories can damage a child’s hearing?

9.Why are you allowing children to sit in all manner of positions that do not support a healthy ergonomic working position and can result in physical problems for our children?

10.Considering over 100 doctors and medical experts recommend that pregnant women reduce exposures to protect babies brain development, what are you doing to protect pregnant students and staff who are exposed to the wireless access points and digital devices while at work. This is your responsibility and you are accountable to inform them of this issue.

11.The March letter states that "we recognize that screen time and Wi-Fi radiation are cited in several research articles as concerns. At the same time many research articles refutet he claims due to lack of evidence”. I would like you to please send me the research articles that you have reviewed showing that wireless is a health concern.

12.Please send the research articles which you are referring to that "refute the claims due to lack of evidence."

13. Your letter also states MSDE feels that any possible concerns must be addressed. Could you please detail why you “feel” these concerns are addressed? I am unclear about how feelings are involved in regards to this issue. It is a health issue that requires risk mitigation and action. It is not about feeling nor the opinion of anyone other than a medical professional.

14.In your letter you state that "stakeholders from across the state are collaborating to develop a new state instructional technology plan: Maryland Digital Learning Framework.” I have not been invited to be a stakeholder in this new plan and nor has any parents nor teachers I know. Has the community been invited? Therefore, could you please elaborate on who the “stakeholders” and the process by which they are picked?

15.The letter also states that "recommendations related to screen time and Wi-Fi are already embedded in the draft plan." Please specify exactly what you were referring to.

16.You also state "the MSDE draft of Maryland ESSA plan addresses both concerns”. However I cannot find these issues in the current draft that I have available to me. Could you please send me the draft ESSA plan you are referring to and please highlight or specify exactly where there are recommendations related to screen time, eye health, posture, addiction, and Wi-Fi radiation.

17.Regardless of these drafts that you state are in draft form, the fact is that unsafe use is happening at this very moment in classrooms. Therefore action needs to be taken at this moment, not after draft plans are developed. Once the draft plan becomes an enforceable and actionable regulation then perhaps protections will be in place but that is in the future. As protections are not currently in place, action needs to be taken now to protect children. Please specify what the MSDE is doing now to ensure safety in the classroom.

18.Please also specify what the school districts are doing, perhaps individually in theird istricts in regards to these health and safety issues. (If you are unaware of whati ndividual districts are doing then I suggest you please find out as you are responsible for safety.)

19.How many hours are children on devices in Maryland schools? Some parents tell me their children are only on for a short time, some in almost every class. So it seems like there are various answers and yet this should have been worked out in advance.

20. Is there a policy that dictates the maximum amount of screen time children can be on in a day? (I should also add that I have heard the children are on digital devices during gym class.)

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