‘Telepresence’ grant of nearly $18,000 will bring classroom to home for Erie students unable to attend school

ERIE, Dec. 11 – A $17,894 state grant will give Erie students who are unable to be present in the classroom a chance to participate in real time from home, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today.

The grant from the state Department of Education will fund telepresence systems – equipment that provides nearly life-like, interactive audio and video between class and a student’s home.

“In the past, students with serious illnesses or other conditions that kept them out of the classroom simply missed that time, often with lasting consequences to their academic records,” Harkins said. “Those absences also created an extra burden on teachers to develop additional assignments and lesson plans. Access to this technology will be a game changer for these students and their teachers.”

Merski agreed, saying, “Learning is a dynamic process that goes well beyond the curriculum. It involves interacting with the teacher and peers and the chance to actively participate in the lesson. It means inclusion. I know based on my years teaching how important this is, and I’m so glad we’ll be able to make this technology available to students in our community.”

The funding is part of a $300,000 package of Keystone Telepresence grants to educational service agencies across the state, which will purchase the equipment and lend it out to school districts.

The Erie grant will go to Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit 5 – the regional education agency that serves school districts in Erie, Crawford and Warren counites.