Six percent of Dare students in virtual learning

By on September 9, 2021

Number of students in virtual grew after mask mandate

The Dare County Board of Education voted for universal masking in schools on Sept.1

After voting unanimously to require universal masking in all school buildings on Sept. 1, the Dare County Board of Education also moved to re-open registration for the virtual learning option with a deadline of Sept. 6 at 5 p.m.

Following the close of that registration, the number of students in virtual learning has jumped from 260 to 312, with 67 Dare County students in kindergarten through 12th grade opting to leave in-person learning in the school buildings for virtual learning. By comparison, 15 students chose to return to the classroom.

While the numbers aren’t particularly large, about four times the number of students moved into virtual learning after that vote than went back into the classroom. The 312 students how in virtual learning represents 6 percent of the 5,172 students currently enrolled in the school system.

As part of the school board’s Sept. 1 vote, students will be required to stick with their options through the first semester, which ends on January 22. Whether to extend the virtual option into the second semester would have to be determined by the board.

Board of Education Chair Mary Ellon Ballance made the motion on Sept. 1 to re-open the virtual option for parents who may want to change their students’ status based on the board’s vote for universal masking, which generated some protests from the audience at that meeting.

“I think it’s only fair that we would offer the virtual option to those parents that aren’t comfortable putting a mask on their child as we did for the other side,” she asserted. “I know it’s not ideal and we obviously want our children in school as much as possible. But under the circumstances, I think it’s important that we do continue to provide as many options for parents as we are able to provide.”

Board member David Twiddy disagreed and cast the sole dissenting vote. “I’m really not comfortable with that, I think we’re gonna have more parents opt into virtual learning because” of the mask mandate, he said. “I want them in the building, and I don’t want virtual learning. They are not doing what needs to be done in virtual learning.”

Virtual learning this year looks different, Dare County Schools Superintendent John Farrelly noted at the meeting, adding that it is not the “Cadillac version that it was last year.”

“The rigor in teacher-student interaction in virtual this year is much different and scaled back than compared to the previous year,” he said.

Elementary students are assigned a Dare County Schools teacher with instructional delivery being both synchronous and asynchronous with the potential for live virtual meetings to be limited, according to a Sept. 2 email from Farrelly announcing the opportunity for virtual learning change status.

As for grades six through 12, instruction is primarily delivered asynchronously through APEX Learning and North Carolina Virtual Public Schools courses. There is a potential, according to the email, for students to be assigned a Dare County Schools teacher who will monitor grades, attendance and be available for student questions or support.






  • 60s Suzanne

    I believe the large changeover to virtual schools is not a result of STUDENT’S’ desire not to wear masks, but the egos of their anti-mask parents.
    Distance learning is not the best way to get an education. Kids need to be in a real school and we all know it.
    If this choice to switch to virtual is because wearing a mask upsets the parents, they are truly doing their child’s education a disservice now and in the future.
    I believe there are many, many students who would be willing to wear masks for a few hours a day in order to go to their regular school but fear upsetting their parents. I believe most of them did not get a choice because it was made by the parents who were unhappy, or have already instilled in their children a belief of personal rights even when it can hurt many other people.
    If you parents think you are getting back at the school board for changing their decision, you will be hurting your own children.
    The facts of all mask- no quarantine or allow masks and have tons of kids and staff out on quarantine, was a no brainer. We should all want our kids to be in school.
    Did any of you try to explain this no choice option to your children and explain this was the only way everyone could go to school, including their friends? Or did you rant and rave that no child of mine is going to wear a mask for anything- not even if other kids will suffer, like you ranted and raved at the school board meeting where there weren’t supposed to be any public comments?
    If switching all your children to virtual was supposed to be a pay back, you have let your child down.
    All you have taught them is if they don’t like something to throw a fit, and then a bigger fit if necessary.
    This will come back to haunt you when your child is 16 and suddenly wants a brand new car you cannot afford.
    This could have been a chance to teach an awesome civics lesson in doing the best for the most. I think most of the children would have understood this.
    You do have a lot of personal rights, but when your rights sicken or interfere with students having to lose part of their education to quarantines, you picked the most selfish reason.
    I am sorry that you cannot see the math in this and the overall good it will do for so many.
    You are the parent and could have convinced your child to wear a mask. If there is a medical reason instead of an “I don’t want to” reason, it has been made very clear there are medical exemptions.
    Shame on you parents who let their personal bias affect their child’s education.

    Thursday, Sep 9 @ 1:46 pm
  • Sarah

    Good!! It’s DEFINITELY time that the responsibility lies with anti-maskers/vaxxers to keep their students home as they are unwilling to do the bare minimum to prevent the spread of COVID. My student who is vaccinated and happy to wear a mask (and has been masked in school since August 23) should be able to have a closer to normal school year! We have reliable, scientifically-proven ways to get back closer to normal and those willing to take those measures should be able to reap the benefits! Especially since DCS is not offering honors or Career & Technical Education courses through their virtual option. It is ludicrous that my options as a parent have been to either sacrifice my child’s health or academic future. Let someone who is unwilling to take basic preventative measures make that choice. Can’t wait until the vaccine is added to the list of required school immunizations!!!!

    Thursday, Sep 9 @ 3:22 pm
  • Michelle Taylor

    I am pretty happy about changing my child over to the virtual option. It is great that the BOE offered this option to parents!

    Thursday, Sep 9 @ 9:07 pm
  • Stephen

    The anti maskers’ personal freedom does not extend to a right to infect others

    Thursday, Sep 9 @ 9:14 pm
  • Diana Smith

    Strange that parents would choose to potentially bury their children rather than cover their sweet faces.

    Friday, Sep 10 @ 4:11 pm
  • hightider

    I am sure that the poor parents of the child from Currituck killed by the drunk driver on her way to school last year would give anything to have her back alive and would not be arguing over “rights” to not wear a mask.

    Friday, Sep 10 @ 7:36 pm
  • Suzy

    I quit caring about the antivax/antimask crowd long ago. Stupid and ignorant is as stupid and ignorant does. But the media needs to quit with the pity pieces every time a chosen antivaxxer dies of COVID. Their woulda/shoulda/coulda sob stories are eye rolling at best.

    Sunday, Sep 12 @ 7:29 am