Dayton High School

The first school district to open in the Walla Walla Valley this year has also become the first to close buildings again due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

At least 30 students at Dayton middle and high schools are quarantining due to several COVID-19 cases among staff and students. The outbreak spurred the schools to return to online learning Tuesday, Aug. 31.

Superintendent Guy Strot said those buildings will remain closed for at least the rest of the week.

“We’re closing for four days for remote learning,” Strot said. “We are going to reevaluate on Monday, Labor Day, to see if we are going to come back in for in-person on Tuesday, or if we’ll remain out.”

Strot said a decision to stay remote would likely be made for a week at a time.

As of Monday, 14 students were out sick from the middle and high schools. In addition, 12 more were in quarantine, Strot confirmed.

Both these figures have since gone up, Strot said.

Some in quarantine have since become sick, and there have been more cases reported Monday night and Tuesday afternoon, he said.

The total numbers of cases and quarantined students is “easily” greater than 30, Strot said on Tuesday afternoon, but didn’t have exact numbers.

He also said several staff members are under quarantine with at least one positive COVID-19 case.

Meanwhile, the elementary school — which has two students out sick and four in quarantine — is still open for in-person learning.

Strot said the number of quarantined elementary students is expected to increase and will include younger siblings of middle and high school students.

The Dayton School Board had an emergency meeting Monday, Aug. 30, to make the decision to temporarily move to remote learning at the upper grade levels official — a plan that had already been announced to parents.

Strot said distance learning is being conducted in much the same fashion as last year.

Students are asked to log in to Google Classroom at the start of each of their seven periods. Teachers will give assignments and students will be able to log off to complete them.

Because the emergency meeting was so close to the scheduled work session on Sept. 1, the Sept. 1 meeting has been canceled.

The work session topics, including a discussion on the strategic plan, were tabled until next month. How to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak was the lone discussion topic.

However, a few actions items scheduled for Wednesday were voted on and approved, including accepting a bid for an oil provider and the hiring of two assistant athletic coaches.

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Jeremy Burnham can be reached at jeremyburnham@wwub.com or 509-526-8321.


Jeremy covers education, as well as Dayton and Columbia County, for the Union-Bulletin. He graduated from Eastern Washington University in 2019 with a degree in journalism.

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