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Technology brings classroom to 3rd grader recovering from cancer

Posted at 6:18 PM, May 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-10 08:20:04-04

BEL AIR, Md. — While third grader Lainey Loftus recovers from radiation for a brain tumor, she attends class remotely with the help of Lainey-Bot.

"The kids miss her so much," said third grade teacher Fern Goodman.

But her teacher says with the technology, it's like she's there.

"She always has a smile. She just takes whatever as it comes so she's been a real trooper with it. Her learning to drive. It was fun," said Goodman.

Yeah... she learned to drive it!

"I always run into walls," said Loftus.

"She steers it from home and she drives it down the hallway and a buddy cares for her and walks with her to make sure she gets there safely," said Goodman.

Through state grants, the Harford County School system bought four robots and iPads so students who couldn't physically be in school could still learn and interact with their peers.

The program is being piloted with Loftus and her class at Homestead/Wakefield Elementary School, who had to leave school in December when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

"We noticed some changes in her vision. She was having trouble navigating, walking through the normal, every day things around here," said her mom Brandi Loftus.

She went through chemo and radiation, which ended in the middle of April. Her last MRI showed the tumor is gone. While she's home recovering, she says the remote classroom technology helped her get through it all.

"Sometimes, when I saw my friends, it would make me feel happier that I get to see them," said Loftus.

In conjunction with her tutor, the bot helps her stay on track and in touch with her peers.

"I'm happy that she gets to learn with us because it's important for every child to learn so that they can have a good career and a career means that they have money. If they have money, they would have a good life and I want Delainey to have a real good life," said classmate Meena Dannettel.

"It feels really good that they're behind me and if anything happens, they are supporting me," said Loftus.

She has one more check up this month because she gets a complete bill of health, and then she hopes to be back in class for a few hours a day and attend the end of the school year party.