A special, non-human visitor attended the latest Donegal school board meeting.
A robot from Double Robotics was shown to the board and was operated by Dana Blair, director of special education and pupil services.
The robot has a monitor sitting on top of a pole, which is attached to rollers so the robot can travel. It is even able to stay balanced when encountering bumps.
The robot – which is on loan from the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 – is being used by a student who is too sick to come to school. No information about the student was able to be released, due to privacy laws.
“Kids who would ordinarily be on homebound instruction – which means that they medically are not able to come to school – they can sit at home and control the robot from their laptop at home and participate in their classes,” Blair told the school board at its meeting on Thursday, March 8.
The monitor allows the student to raise his or her hand, and a speaker on the robot allows the student to speak with classmates, and the classmates to respond. The student also controls the robot’s movements.
Blair said the robot helps students “experience the instruction they would be missing and still stay connected to their peers.”
Also at the board meeting, Superintendent J. Michael Lausch said the district would support students who want to participate in a 17-minute school walkout to honor the lives of the 17 people who were killed at the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida last month.
Lausch said high school students told teachers they want to participate in the walkout as a show of support, rather than as a protest.
He said middle school students were not as interested in the walkout, but said they would be allowed to participate.
The walkout was not discussed with elementary school students, since teachers were unsure what they may or may not know about the shooting, Lausch said.
In light of the shooting, board member Benjamin Kling suggested that a second Susquehanna Regional Police School Resource Officer could help deter a school shooting.
Lausch said that at a recent Community Forum held by the district, many participants suggested more of a police presence at the schools.
A cost sheet for an additional police officer will now be prepared for the board to review.
In other news, a proposed budget will be presented at the April school board meeting, and the official budget will be voted on at its May meeting.
The next meeting of the Donegal School Board will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, at Donegal Primary School, 1055 Koser Road, Mount Joy.