Working during COVID-19

South students deal with new requirements, fewer hours at work


Courtesy of Rachel Jacklin

Junior Rachel Jacklin wears a mask during her shift at Chick-fil-A.

One day you go in for your shift, and everything seems normal. It’s business as usual and the next your day you are tasked with cleaning high-touch points each hour, limiting the number of people allowed inside; you are beginning to notice a large change in the way you treat your job. You may start to feel less safe at work than before. Or you may see less of your co-workers on your regular shifts.

Your job changed as you knew it, in what felt like overnight.  

During this pandemic, many of our own students have experienced changes in their everyday lives due to COVID-19. Not only have they experienced changes such as: wearing a mask when leaving the house, school being online, and the ACTs being canceled, but many students have observed policy changes at work. 

A number of students were interviewed regarding pandemic changes, and how it has affected their shifts. More specifically how it affects how they view these changes. 

One of these most obvious and biggest changes was the requirement of masks by many businesses, and later on, required by the St. Louis County. Senior Nina Cook said this new rule affected her workplace in a big way. Cook works at Pasta House as a hostess.

 “I always feel anxious when someone isn’t wearing a mask when they walk in because I have to be the one to tell them to put a mask on,” she said.  

Many students expressed the stress it created for them to see a customer walk in without a mask on, whether it was that they didn’t feel comfortable asking them to put one on or that they felt unsafe around that particular person not abiding by the rules of the establishment. 

Senior Cole Rich acknowledged another large but less noticeable change students noticed 

“At Cape [Albeon retirement home] we had our hours cut and shifts shortening, which caused that of problems for some of our employees who rely on that income to support themselves,” Rich said. 

Rich said he is changing jobs now due to his hours being cut because of COVID-19. He works at Cape Albeon as a server but will be moving to Culvers soon.

Not only did we see many people losing hours and shifts due to COVID-19, but we also saw many people losing their jobs altogether. This not only hurts that person but also their co-workers as they now had to do two people’s worth of work in one shift. This can be a large stressor and can decrease the overall quality of service. 

Some things have been kept safe while junior Rachel Jacklin continues to work at Chick-fil-A. Although while taking extra precautions, like cleaning high-touch points, like credit card readers, everyone has remained safe. 

“[Our] dining room is closed but we have always been open for drive-through and mobile orders,” she said. 

She said she hands bags of food to customers on a tray, and she feels safe at work. 

While many people are being safe, some have been unsafe. Some students still are not wearing masks and social distancing while being with family and/or friends, and are exposing others to COVID while at their jobs. 

Senior Jada Williams works at Applebees as a hostess and said she has worked with people who were unsure if they had COVID-19.

Yeah, we’ve had several instances where people at my job were exposed and had to get tested. That always gets me anxious,” she said. 

 Senior Maggie Lillis said she isn’t really concerned with working in her new work environment at Sonic. Nothing has stopped her from pushing ahead in her occupation.

“I have been working through all of this. My family did voice concerns, but I took extra measures to prevent any exposure,” she said.