San Juan and Aromas students return Jan. 10

District makes adjustments as it faces unknowns regarding student positivity rate and availability of substitute teachers.

Editor’s Note: Readers pointed out that the headline was misleading and so it has been written to be more accurate. We removed the word “Delayed” from the headline.  We also added these words to the first sentence of the story: “Compared to other schools around the county, San Juan/Aromas is getting a later start in returning to classes.” We also changed the phrase “getting a late start” to “getting a later start”. We want to thank readers for pointing this out to us and apologize for the error. The use of the word “delay” was a poor selection. 

Compared to other schools around the county, the San Juan Aromas School District is getting a later start on returning to classes. Given the spike in numbers of COVID cases from the Omicron variant, Superintendent Michelle Huntoon is still hoping for the best for the district as far as students and teachers coming back healthy. 

“We won’t go back into session until Monday [Jan. 10], so we won’t know a lot until then,” Huntoon said. “We have been at 2% before the break and my hope is we will continue with a low positivity rate going forward. We just have to be diligent with our COVID protocols and we are working with our staff right now to make sure they are all in place.”

Huntoon said the district will have a better idea of where things stand by Wednesday, Jan 12.

“We know more about our staff than we do our students,” Huntoon said. “We sent out a letter to parents saying there is a chance of closing because of lack of substitutes. This is a national issue and nobody has enough subs. So we need to ensure that we have healthy students and healthy staff. If we don’t have enough healthy staff, we will have to close.”

Huntoon said closing is something that will be assessed very carefully before it happens.

“It is really the last thing we want to do,” she said. “We want to remain in person as much as we can. It’s unfortunate to consider, but the environment is changing. Four years ago, health issues were not something you had to keep thinking about, but now it is constantly on the minds of our staff and students.”

Huntoon said she doubts that things will ever go back to what had been considered normal before the pandemic.

“With what we have gone through over the last two years, we have learned resilience and flexibility. But the pandemic has changed our lives forever. How we set up the classrooms, how we move children to the cafeteria, how we handle being on the playground. It is inevitable that there will be some level of change that will be left over from the pandemic, but how much, I have no idea.”

BenitoLink contacted Aromas School, San Juan School and Anzar High School for comment, but received no response.


Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.