DMS virtual numbers fluctuate

Since the beginning of the school year at Duncan Middle School, a large number of students have used the option for virtual classes.

At the start, about 100 DMS students were virtual. But things have been changing.

Principal Rodney Strutton is keeping track of virtual numbers for Duncan Middle School. Districtwide, about 500 students are virtual. (Isaac Pain)

DMS Principal Rodney Strutton is keeping track of the virtual numbers.

“The number changes daily,” Strutton said. “Currently, there are 500 virtual students (in Duncan Public Schools).”

He said the students going virtual or returning from virtual sometimes causes frequent changes in teachers’ rosters. This year, teachers are keeping track of seating charts, and every time students return from or leave for virtual, teachers have to create and submit a new seating chart.

“The numbers reached their top point a couple of weeks ago and then started to decline,” Strutton said. “I think one of the reasons they declined is because kids might not like it, but there are other reasons. But I think that is the main reason.”

Duncan Middle School has allowed students to return from being virtual, but things may be changing, especially as things draw closer to the end of the semester. Not all classes have virtual options, so virtual students do not get to choose their electives. All virtual students have the same electives.

Some students, who have gone, virtual are using a blended approach, where they do all their classwork online but are still able to participate in extra-curricular activities, such as sports and clubs.

Strutton said this year has been a weird year, but virtual classes give students and parents an option to continue attending school through Duncan Public Schools. However, with COVID-19 concerns, the virtual option gives many families peace of mind.

Virtual classes are not mandatory. Students can go virtual at any time, but they may not be able to return whenever they want. Virtual classes are set to be open all year long, Strutton said, but as things change with COVID-19, the accessibility of virtual learning may change.

At the end of the 2019-20 school year, all Oklahoma schools moved to distance learning. In Duncan, teachers worked with students through digital means, whether that was Google Classroom, through email or through virtual meeting programs, such as Google Meets or Zoom.

This year, there has been a push for in-person instruction to give students the best possible education. Still, Duncan Public Schools has worked to develop a virtual learning plan, which is geared toward students wanting to go that route.

Students who choose to go virtual may find the curriculum and rigor more difficult. But some may appreciate the ability to work from home.