CARTHAGE, Mo. — More and more students are connecting with their education online – a number that’s exploded in the Carthage School District.

That’s a long list that starts with a new home for virtual learning for the tigers. The Virtual Learning Center now has its own base of operations – and is seeing strong growth.

Isaiah Bussey, CHS Student, said, “With covid getting so bad I didn’t want risk my family getting sick.”

So last fall, Isaiah Bussey of Carthage decided to do online classes from home. With covid-19 trends improving, he’s now mostly in class with a few campus-based, online courses.

“I’m working on Government right now. Now I have a real teacher to talk to if I need help it’s working out to my benefit I’d say.”

He’s one of many now using the Virtual Learning Center – a new site for a growing program of digital classes. Carthage students can use it for remedial coursework, to add extra classes not taught in the district, or in some cases as flexible education for at risk students. School leaders say the majority of students will take at least one class digitally.

Carthage R-9 Asst. Superintendent Kandy Frazier, said, “If you look at the percentages of how many of our kids take some class in their high school years virtually, you’ll see that it’s at least 80%.”

Online learning from home likely saw the biggest boost with the covid-19 pandemic. There were just 10 high school students using the option a year ago. In the Fall, 800 enrolled.

“It just works out better. Everyone learns differently and depending on situations we feel like the bigger the variety of learning opportunities, the better our students will do.”

Online learning from home is down this semester, with about 400 continuing the remote instruction. For many students, they feel it’s safe to come back to class or that they just prefer instruction in-person. The new virtual learning center sits just East of the Sixth Grade Center.