By Amy White
Special to The Texas Catholic
Students at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic School in Plano extend their fond hellos to a new inhabitant of their hallways—no, not another student but an autonomous sanitizing robot. The school welcomed this unique occupant, affectionately named LEO, in October of this year—another tech-forward move for a school already recognized as one of the country’s top three Catholic schools in technology integration.
“LEO, our cleaning robot, is run by artificial intelligence,” said Tyler Ezetendu, a St. Mark fifth-grader. “No other school like ours has a machine like this.”
Indeed, by employing LEO the robot — a self-driving machine that can maneuver obstacles, manage data and interact with the product’s consumers while it cleans — St. Mark has become the first K-12 school in the United States to use this kind of artificial intelligence (AI) technology for school cleaning.
LEO was gifted to the school through a generous donation by Get Clean Services on behalf of Charles Herrera, a St. Mark parent. Get Clean Services stands at the forefront of sanitizing robot technology as the first janitorial company to successfully distribute cleaning robots for disinfection purposes.
“We are thrilled to be able to work with Get Clean Services and to add LEO the robot to our maintenance team,” said principal of St. Mark, Patricia Opon.
As a BrainOS-powered RoboScrub 20, LEO works independently from school staff to sanitize the floors of the school, freeing St. Mark’s maintenance team to focus on other vital sanitation needs, like frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces.
“Maintaining a constant state of clean in our school facilities is more important than ever, and LEO allows us to exceed the prescribed health and safety standards,” Opon said.
Certainly, in a time of hand sanitizer and face masks, LEO is one of the more creative methods of staying healthy during a pandemic.
Named LEO, meaning “Love Each Other,” St. Mark’s robot reminds the school’s students to embody God’s love to one another.
“Whenever we see him, it’s almost like a sign showing how much God loves us,” Ezetendu said. “LEO’s job is to keep all of us healthy which shows love.”
This sentiment is echoed by Madison Stirling, a seventh-grade St. Mark student. Since LEO’s arrival, Stirling has noted several ways in which members of the community have demonstrated laudable love: “One person at our school showed her love by making the wonderful lion costume for LEO, someone else is showing their love to our students by teaching us how to program him, and we as students can look at LEO and think, ‘Wow, I helped with that!’ We are grateful to all those who put in so much effort.”