Santiam Academy virtual school closes

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
June 14 marked the last and final day of school for students enrolled at Santiam Academy, the Lebanon Community School District’s virtual school that opened at the beginning of the academic year.
The school started with about 100 students enrolled in kindergarten through the eighth grade, almost two years after COVID-19 forced masking and quarantining upon the state, but the district revealed in a letter to staff and parents that it was closing because of low attendance.
“Since last fall, we offered a timely opportunity for many families concerned about the risks and rules surrounding COVID-19,” it read. “For many families, our school proved that learning online was the much-needed change in format that helped their students thrive.”
It went on to explain that as pandemic restrictions were relaxed in the spring, many Santiam Academy online students chose to return to in-person schooling next year. While some preferred to remain, or at least wait to see what happens in the coming year, the district made the decision to shut down in a fiscally responsible move.
“It appears that local demand for this particular type of school is not high enough to sustain it,” the letter read. “Additionally, in the face of recent news about education-budget reductions statewide, it makes more sense for us to put our resources – including our human resources – toward serving all students in our in-person schools.”