Students continue working through the pandemic


By Ben Reed, Staff Reporter

As COVID-19 continues to sweep across the country, small businesses and their workers have had to implement safety features in order to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Consequently, high school students who work at these places have experienced changes in the workplace.

Lots of students were not working in the early months of the COVID-19 outbreak around March. For some, it was because they wanted to take a break and quarantine. 

“A lot of the people, especially the guys I work with, just took off for the pandemic and they just never came back.” said junior Ben Huddler who works at Chick-fil-A. “We were missing a lot of people.”

Senior Liam Walker, who works at Play It Again Sports and HG Coal Fired Pizza, explained that some students were also let go from their jobs for a period of time.

“A lot of my friends did not work for like four or five months.” Walker said. “With the people I’ve talked to they were laid off, like a certain amount of time, and then after three or four months they got called back to their job.”

With students taking breaks from work, businesses were looking for new workers as they started to reopen. Junior Reid Scorzetti said that this made it easy to get hired at Chick-fil-A.

“They were looking for a lot of employees especially because a lot of people stopped working there because of the pandemic.” Scorzetti said. 

Walker, who was working at Play It Again sports before the pandemic, had a similar experience when applying at HG Coal Fired Pizza in late Aug.

“It was really easy,” Walker said. “I actually started the day I turned in my application.”

Ben Huddler and Liam Walker both said that, upon returning to work, there were lots of new employees who had started working. According to Huddler, a lot of these employees were high school students. Another major change has been the implementation of different health and safety measures while working, such as the use of masks and gloves. Reid Scorzetti explained how these new regulations, the masks in particular, affect interactions between customers and employees.

“It makes it feel like there’s not as much of a connection between you and the customers,” Scorzetti said. “It’s just different when you’re only seeing half of a person’s face. I don’t really know what most of the coworkers look like because I only see their eyes.”

Some of the students also experienced a change in work hours and frequency of shifts. 

“I only worked three hour shifts. I came back and I immediately started doing four or five and then eight hour shifts.” Huddler said. “It’s easier to work longer shifts as opposed to a bunch of small shifts because then it’s a constant change.”

However, some experienced the opposite. Senior lifeguard at Martin’s Dam Club pool Sarah Rosato, explained that although her hours were shortened due to a lack of attendance at the pool, there was still lots of work to do.

“We usually stay open ten to ten, but in the beginning we closed early because there weren’t a lot of people coming.” said Rosato. “We definitely had to do more. There was less time to just chill because we always had to do different things.”

Despite the hardships of working, students are continuing at their jobs for various reasons. Junior Alex Harris, a Target employee, explains that he continues to work to serve the public.

“Because of these hard times there’s a lot of people that have lost their jobs, so I’m very fortunate to be able to have a job still.” Harris said. “People are going through these rough times and I’m able to help my community by working.”

Ben Reed can be reached at [email protected]