Dayton High School

New Dayton School District Superintendent Guy Strot says he would like students to attend daily classes in-person when schools reopen in September.

“I have no interest in an A/B schedule,” Strot said, referring to a schedule that would divide students into two groups and have each group attend school on different days or during different parts of the day. “We have the square footage here at the school. I believe that we can do it.”

Reducing the number of students in classrooms at a given time is necessary at many larger districts because COVID-19 social distancing regulations will reduce the capacity of some schools by up to half.

Guidelines for reopening by Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal require students be at least 6 feet apart when seated in a classroom. This means each a 36-square-foot area is needed around each desk.

Strot, whose first day on the job was Wednesday, said he will measure every classroom this month to make sure there is enough room to fit every student. He said most of the rooms are not filled to capacity anyway. And based on his first walk-through of the building, he doesn’t believe fitting every student in the rooms under the new guidelines will be an issue.

“We have roughly 380 to 400 students. We are a small district,” Strot said. “And I am open to being creative. I’ll use a library if I have a classroom that is too small for a class. If I have a class that has 10 students and another that has 22, and the one with 10 students has a larger classroom, I’ll have them switch classrooms … It’s going to be a challenge, but we have the space to do this.”

Strot intends to have a plan in place by early August so that the rest of the month can be spent preparing to execute the plan.

Strot said he plans to reach out to staff, parents and the community to make himself available for those who want to talk.

The return to school will include plans for students unable to return to in-person instruction due to health concerns.

“I don’t want to lose a single student to anybody,” Strot said. “I want all the Dayton students to stay Dayton students.”

He said a strategy will be developed for distance learning for these students, and could include some one-on-one face-to-face meetings with teachers. These plans are also expected to be in place by early August.

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Jeremy Burnham can be reached at jeremyburnham@wwub.com or 509-551-8896.


Jeremy Burnham covers education and Columbia County for the Union-Bulletin. He is a recent graduate of Eastern Washington University, where he studied journalism, and is an Eastern Eagle fanatic.