GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Mason Stedman has been attending Pactolus school via a robot called — VGo, which allows him to actually move around the classroom and be seen by his classmates — without ever stepping foot in the school.
Mason has a rare lung condition, and since the emergence of COVID-19 has not been able to attend school because the risk of contracting the virus is too big.
“He has primary ciliary dyskinesia, and he has an autoimmune deficiency on top of it …They’re worried that if he gets COVID, it will be dangerous, very dangerous for him,” said Mason’s mom, Jennalee Stedman.
Stedman said she and her son felt extremely lucky when the Pitt County Schools district offered this technology to them a couple of months ago.
Mason attends school every day, by getting on his iPad, and revving up his robot. He is able to maneuver the robot around the classroom, ask questions, approach the teacher, almost anything you could think of.
“He can move it in circles,” Stedman said with a laugh.
She said the VGo has helped Mason with his enthusiasm about the school, but more than anything, he just can’t wait to go back to regular in-person classes.
“What boy doesn’t want a robot. So he’s eager to go back to school. He, he wants to go back to school. But this is a way that he can correct and feel like he’s just waiting in class, rather than like just a computer,” she said.
Mason’s face shows up on the robot’s screen, so his classmates even know what he looks like. Stedman says they had just moved from Connecticut to Greenville when they were offered the opportunity, and she hopes other schools will start using the technology as well.
“I think this has been very, very good for Mason,” said Stedman.
And even though it’s not quite the same as going to school in person, Stedman said it has helped put a smile back on his face.
“He keeps on asking Mommy, when am I going to go to school? When am I going to go to school? So this is more of an excitement for him being at home,” she said.
Stedman explained he was the first kid in the district to be chosen to try out the robot because the school thought he would be a perfect candidate since he would be out of the classroom, long-term.