South’s essential workers

Despite Pandemic, many Patriots continue to work


Courtesy of Abby Burkhalter

Sophomore Abby Burkhalter prepares pizzas at Papa Murphy’s pizza in Twin Oaks.

With the nationwide unemployment rate at 14.7% and many Americans out of a job, there are still many South High students still working during COVID-19. Junior Taya Hale works at a Lutheran Senior Services/Meramec Bluffs. With people over 65 years of age being the biggest risk group for covid-19, she explained precautions she is having to take.

“Since we have had a case in our facility we no longer can have contact with the residents only nurses, we also are required to wear masks and there are strict precautions in areas of isolation,” Hale said.

With employees having to change their work procedures and being put at risk Hale added that she is being paid more than normal during this time.

“We are getting a small additional hazard pay, but it is unfair that my friends are getting paid more from unemployment than I am actually working,” Hale said.

Another South student still working is junior Nick Mueller. Mueller works for a lawn care company and he said he enjoys working more during this pandemic.

“With more free time I have had the opportunity to work full time doing 40-plus hours a week, I have even gotten a pay raise and an extra $8 a day because we have to drive separately to our clients’ lawns now,” said Mueller.

For junior James Stone who works in the fast food industry he says his job is harder now. Stone works at Culvers.

“I would say we have lost about 30 percent of our workforce making me and my co-workers having to work more hours; also our lines are constantly backed up to Manchester Rd. with people waiting since now we have to only do drive thru,” said Stone. 

Stone also stated that with serving customers food he is having to take extra precautions.

“Our dining room is closed and even for the drive thru we never touch the bag only handing it to the customers on a tray that we clean after every customer, we also wear masks and are required to change gloves every hour,” Stone added.

Regarding a very essential business, junior Margo Nelson works at Schnucks grocery store as a bagger.

“ With everyone still needing food, medicine, and cleaning supplies Schnucks has remained open with many precautions to keep our customers and employees safe, we wear masks, have barriers at checkouts, wipe down all carts, and limit the amount of people who can come in the store,” said Nelson.

Nelson also added that she believes a job is essential.

“While working in an open environment and at such a potentially exposing place as Schnucks is not ideal, I believe for me and many Americans having a job and supporting local business is a very important and essential thing in this complicated and upsetting time,” said Nelson.