FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – A Fort Collins ninth-grader has allergies so dangerous she can’t even risk being inside her high school. But she’s still going to school and sees her friends because she has a robot that goes to class for her.
“I have a severe dairy allergy,” 14-year-old Lauren Robinson said.
It’s an allergy that has left Robinson homebound for her freshman year at Fossil Ridge High School because being in school could kill her.
“There are kids touching the desk with their breakfast hands,” she said.
With a Wi-Fi robot called a VGo, Robinson’s teachers and friends can see and talk with her while she’s safe at home controlling the robot from her keyboard.
When CBS4’s Mike Hooker paid Robinson a visit, she and a partner worked on a project in speech class.
“It feels like we’re just talking,” she said.
“It would feel strange if you’re not really looking at the screen, but when you’re looking at the screen it’s like she’s right there with you,” classmate Nick Pallotti said.
Rolling to class, Robinson said she sometimes feels like a bit of a robo rock star.
“It’s kind of hard to get through because everyone’s trying to touch me and talk to me, so it’s kind of hard to get to class on time,” Robinson said.
“Part of it is it’s a robot, and part of it is it’s Lauren. She has friends here,” Principal Dr. Deirdre Cook said.
Cook said the VGo robot cost the school $5,000.
“We’re hoping long-term it can save dollars and give better first instruction to our students because she can be in the classroom,” Cook said.
“She’s able to interact with kids the way that she would if she was in school,” said Robinson’s mother, Melissa.
That gives Robinson’s parents some comfort.
“I’m really sad that I had to miss my freshman year, but I’m very happy that I’m able to go to school through this because it feels like I’m having the same experiences they are going to high school,” Robinson said.
Robinson was born with the dairy allergy. She’s actually able to get together with her Fossil Ridge friends outside of school and she even plays on a field hockey team as long as everybody’s careful around dairy products. There are just too many chances to get exposed to dairy in the school building.