CHILOQUIN, Ore. -- The Sage Community School is closing permanently.
In January of 2020, concerns started rising about the possibility of mold in the school. The school originally cancelled classes on January 21st. The reason for the closure cited in a Facebook post was for "building maintenance".
In a Facebook post on January 24th, the Sage Community School said that they had been "made aware of a possible mold issue and are taking every precaution and all of the proper steps". That post went on to say that testing had been done, and that they were waiting on the results.
On February 1st, the school issued a formal press release updating school families on the situation. In the press release, the school says that the mold tests came back negative, and that there is no threat to faculty or students.
However, the statement went on to say that one staff member had become seriously ill. While the mold tests came back negative, the school says it is unable to continue to operate on reduced staffing.
The statement says "the Board worked with staff in an attempt to keep the school open with reduced staff, in the end though there was not a path forward that would allow Sage to maintain the teacher/student ratios to allow staff to educate Sage students".
NewsWatch 12 spoke to an office administrator at the school today. Wendy Buckingham says "it's just been a never-ending stream of bad luck that all landed on us at the same time".
Buckingham adds, "what I really think prompted the final decision was while we wee all out for the mold testing, we lost some students and we also lost some hourly employees that also needed to take of their families and their lives".
The statement from the school also cites the "rising costs of PERS and other operating expenses" as a reason for the closure.
The Klamath County School district is encouraging families affected by the closure to enroll at other Chiloquin schools. KCSD Superintendent Glen Szymoniak issued a flyer with helpful information for families looking to enroll students in Chiliquin Junior-Senior High School or Chiloquin Elementary School.
KCSD also encouraged families to homeschool. They suggest registering with Great Basin Homeschool or the Southern Oregon ESD Homeschool.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Klamath County School District says Chiloquin Elementary School has registered 15 new students today, and they expect more by the end of the week. Chiloquin Junior-Senior High School has registered 5 new students.