Wisconsin student attends school virtually via robots

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DE PERE, Wis. (CNN) – A De Pere High School student with a rare long-term illness attends school days with help via “Beam Bots”.

Kai Wynkoop, 15, was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy at the age of two.

“Mostly pain. I get a lot of pain, so that can make it difficult to sit in class or even get out of bed in the morning,” Wynkoop said.

Wynkoop has only been in class a few times so far this school year due to the pain and fatigue.

Now, he’s able to go to class virtually with the help of two Beam Bots, a type of robot that is controlled remotely and able to communicate through video.

It’s a growing trend with the Appleton and Green Bay School Districts having similar technology, but they’re brand new to the De Pere School District.

“We saw the number of homebound students we had,” Renee Jaydin-Rice, Assistant Principal of De Pere High School said. “We wanted them to be able to connect back to the school, even if they couldn’t physically be here.”

The school district raised the $8,000 needed with its Redbird Rally last fall.

Both of the Beam Bots can be customized for a student’s particular classes.

Currently, Wynkoop is using one to attend his English class.

“He’s still a kid. I mean, it’s important to have those connections with people,” Stefanie Enderby, Wynkoops English Teacher, said. “The students really like having him in the room too. There’s two students that argue about who gets to help him back to the office at the end of the hour.”

Wynkoop hopes to be well enough to return to class sometime this semester or perhaps next year.

Until then, he’s grateful for the opportunity to use the Beam Bot.

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