SAISD introduces robot student proxy

Sick, ailing students can attend school from home

Author: David Sears, Reporter, dsears@ksat.com
Published On: Mar 11 2013 02:23:59 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 06 2013 08:47:03 PM CST
SAN ANTONIO -

San Antonio Independent School District is paving a new way for students who are ill and physically unable to attend school to get back into the classroom. 

They are participating in a pilot program that allows a robot to take the student to class.

The VGO is about 4 feet tall with a small screen on the top and a round base on the bottom that sits on four wheels. 

The student operates the robot from the comfort of their home.

Miranda Garcia, a Foster Elementary School third-grader, is the first student in San Antonio to take the robot for a spin.

"It’s good and it helps me a lot when I am too sick to go to school. I feel a part of the class," Garcia said.

The 8-year-old Garcia suffers from a weak immune system, but since she can attend class, her school work is getting stronger.

"She's gotten better at her reading, which is amazing," said Isabel Garcia, Miranda’s mom. 

Part of the improvement can be contributed to the fact that Miranda can be in the class. She can see and interact with her friends and her teacher.

The robot allows her to listen, ask questions, and participate.

"After having her in the room, it was really nice, because I got to see her face again and we hadn’t seen her in over a month," said Belinda De Luna, Miranda’s teacher.

"It is really that camaraderie with her friends that is really remarkable," said Dr. Vangie Aguilera, senior executive director of SAISD's Special Education Department.

One of Miranda’s friends is there to help her if she has any needs.

"When she is on the screen, it kind of makes me happy 'cause she's here at school," said Esther Rose Alvarado, Miranda’s classmate.

The robot not only puts Miranda in the room, but through the use of her home computer, she can roll herself across the room and even down the hall.

According to her mom, the robot has made all the difference in he school work and her motivation, since she feels like part of the class again.’

“She is a very strong girl when she puts her mind to it,” said Isabel.

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