Students Adjust to New Work Schedules Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

STUDENTS ADJUST TO NEW WORK SCHEDULES AMID CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK -- Many Central students lose their usual work hours, while others adjust to the excess amount they have been scheduled.

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STUDENTS ADJUST TO NEW WORK SCHEDULES AMID CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK — Many Central students lose their usual work hours, while others adjust to the excess amount they have been scheduled.

By Cassandra Castillo, Chattanooga Central High School

As schools nationwide cancel and countries go on full lock-down, stores begin to close their doors and say goodbye to their longtime employees. Students that still live with their parents are not as affected by the decisions to shut down as opposed to employees depending on weekly or biweekly income. Nevertheless, Central students are still eager to work and earn their own hourly wage.

The common trend is to apply for a job as a sophomore or junior, as this is the time students start to drive and become more independent. However, this aspect of adolescence has recently been taken from students as stores limit employee hours and leave less room for new workers. Those that already have jobs are accustomed to working many hours each week, even alongside their schooling and homework. For people who work in retail and restaurants, not getting their usual hours and normal pay can be frustrating. 

Belk closed and they got my hours [messed] up. I have been there [for] eight or nine months,” said Senior Bileah Sit. “We still are going to get paid, though, but [for] very limited hours.”

Dine-in restaurants are closing completely while fast food chains are still up and running; however dining rooms remain closed and take- out is left as an increasing alternative.

“Our dine-in is closed, so only drive-thru is open. Cashiers’ hours have been cut dramatically. No one has lost their job, though,” stated Senior Shaqune Stewart, a local Zaxby’s employee.

Those that work at grocery stores are still receiving a good amount of hours each week as people continue to stock up on items they see necessary such as food, sanitizing supplies, and even toilet paper. Grocery store employees are feeling the heat of staying past their regular hours to accommodate customer needs.

Seniors Jayde Durham and Patrick Quinn who work at local Publix stores have had their hours drastically extended. Cleaning procedures have been put in place to keep their stores in top-shape for the safety of their customers and their employees. Kaylee York, a Central graduate who currently works at Walmart, has witnessed how quick people are about purchasing items as soon as they are re-stocked. 

“I’m actually getting a lot more hours. I normally work 15 [hours] a week, and this week I worked 30 [hours],” said Durham. “To stay clean, we have two designated people that walk around the whole store to clean at all times. They wipe down all the handles and doors, and they also have another person wiping down every single buggy that gets used.”

The modified operating hours of such businesses are supposed to accommodate for the time workers must dedicate to disinfecting the establishment.

“And, we are opening at eight and closing at eight to do deep cleaning at night and to stock everything back up,” she added.

“I’m getting a lot more hours and we’re closing at eight, not ten like normal, to close early for restocking and toilet paper and cleaning the registers,” stated Quinn.

While some people are purchasing normal amounts of necessities, in consideration for others, others have been spotted hoarding months worth of products such as toilet paper, bread, and cleaning supplies, leaving others nothing. This has led to some stores limiting shoppers to one item per visit.

“For starters, we’re all out of paper products. This includes toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, and flushable wipes. We’re putting [other] food items on the shelves that [such paper products are] supposed to go on just to get customers to buy them. We’re out of hand sanitizer, antibacterial hand soap, and rubbing alcohol because people are making their own hand sanitizer,” stated York. “Disinfectants are gone, and new shipments of it are now being limited to two per customer I believe. We’re out of bread, rice, pasta, and beans because people are panic buying. We honestly can’t keep the items on the shelves long enough.”

These places can also be one of the most public and unsanitary areas. Citizens coming into contact with one another, despite their lack knowledge on proper sanitation, can be dangerous. Viruses can easily be spread to multiple people by simply touching hard surfaces and by being around people who are ill. Knowing proper sanitation techniques can be helpful to others and possibly life saving.

“My mom made me quit my job at Food City because of it. She said that it wasn’t safe because we had no cleaning supplies for us or our registers,” stated Senior Milly Garner.

The fact that many stores are closing leads to money lost and a plummeting economy. According to the Wall Street Journal, analysts are expecting this pandemic to heavily affect the growth of the country, possibly having an effect worse than the 2008 recession. Retail workers and restaurant employees are the ones impacted the most by this pandemic. Grocery stores, on the other hand, are the busiest places to work in at the moment, resulting in a shortage of supplies and long hours for employees. 

This story was originally published on The Central Digest on March 25, 2020.