Teenage students work essential jobs during Covid-19 pandemic

By Ryelee Stone           

Opinions Editor

Madisson Shellenberger, a junior, no longer has to wake up early in the morning and to get ready to attend school. She now keeps herself busy by working an essential job at a local pizza shop, Primo Pizza. 

“Working during quarantine has been a lot different. We have to maintain a six foot distance from all customers and wear masks,” Shellenberger said. “Customers aren’t allowed in the store so we have to take all the food outside and set it on a table.”

In general, working can be stressful and challenging for everyone. However, COVID-19 has made it even harder for bosses and all workers to smoothly and effectively accomplish their jobs in a timely manner.

Many new problems have arisen along with the disease itself and many businesses and schools closing. In April alone, the unemployment rate was at an all-time high of 14.7 percent in the United States according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, children no longer have easy everyday access to food because of schools closing, causing one in four children to face hunger.

Essential workers, such as nurses and food providers, are being appreciated now more than ever during these challenging times. However, it can be easy to overlook student teenagers who work “simple jobs” at local restaurants, fast food stores, or as a cashier at a local grocery store.

“I have always admired teenagers who work at fast food places or are a cashier at a grocery,” local customer Linda Rider said. “This pandemic has made me appreciate teenagers who work now more than ever because I would not want to do their jobs at a time like this.”

Most teenagers who have jobs did not decide to be essential workers like those who work in the medical field, they simply became one once the coronavirus started to spread. Teenage student workers have to juggle distance learning and their job, along with the fact that they are putting their safety at risk for others. 

“I never thought of myself as being an essential worker,” senior Shane McDanel said. “A lot of teenagers and people who go to our school work at Giant, but as time goes on I see how important we can be.

The differences of working during the coronavirus do not stop at just at the regulations set by the Control and Disease Prevention Center to keep both workers and customers safe. Now more than ever, members in the community are taking action to support those who may not be able to support themselves because of financial issues.

“We have been a lot busier at Primo Pizza lately because of everything that Ryan [boss] has been doing,” Shellenberger said. “We have had fundraiser nights for local businesses and have been giving out free lunches to kids who are in need.” 

Some student essential workers see this time as a way to grow and develop their character because of all the changes they have to adapt to. This experience of working during a pandemic will not only impact the student essential workers, but also everyone who has been positively impacted by their time and strength. 

“Working during the coronavirus has been a unique experience for me because it has taught me that even though there be issues throughout our communities, as long as we come together we can overcome a lot as long as we stick together,” Shellenbeger said.

Madisson Shellenberger is shown placing lunch items into brown bags for families and children to pick up for free. This picture was taken before masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) were required by the state.

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