Student to Essential Worker

How some students are dealing with the transition from student worker to essential worker

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Olivia Talbert

Grocery store employees, most of which are students, take extra precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their stores. “I worked at the café before and that’s mostly just cleaning. So I figured they would have me cleaning the store,” junior McKenna Moten said. Moten has worked at Target since Aug.

Olivia Talbert, Editor

After working at Walmart for two and a half years, senior Antonio Holbert went from part time student employee to full time essential worker. 

“I thought welp this is it, zombie time,” he said.

On Mar. 24 Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced an official “Stay-at-Home” order for Shawnee county, closing off more than half the state of Kansas and closing all non-essential businesses.

Holbert is experiencing the first hand impact of this order on Kansas employees and businesses.

Working In-Store

“We tend to have fewer employees in a shift, more masks and gloves, lots of hand sanitizer, and weirder amounts of customers,” he said. 

Like Holbert, junior McKenna Moten also became an essential worker after working at Target since August and acknowledges the immense amount of pressure it brings.

“I was worried for my safety but I’m glad that they have me working instead of older employees who are more at risk…lots of people are refusing to come in to work so that means those of us that are willing have to pick up more shifts,” Moten said.

Similarly, Holbert feels the risk of working during the Coronavirus at a place of high foot traffic during the pandemic.

Even while trying to be as safe as possible the risk of contracting the virus is still high so while it is a privilege to be among the few who can still work and get paid it’s still dangerous.”

— Antonio Holbert

“Even while trying to be as safe as possible the risk of contracting the virus is still high so while it is a privilege to be among the few who can still work and get paid it’s still dangerous,” he said.

Virtual Learning Complications

While encountering these threatening risks, both Holbert and Moten note the struggle to balance being on the frontlines and virtual learning.

Moten is standing her ground to maintain her shifts so she doesn’t have to miss any of her Zoom sessions or loose time to do homework.

They [Target] are trying to get me to change my availability and I don’t want to,”

— McKenna Moten

“They [Target] are trying to get me to change my availability and I don’t want to,” Moten said.

Holbert on the other hand is experiencing a more extreme effect of becoming an essential worker. 

“My sleep schedule tends to just work now instead of school, and online classes I make fit around that schedule so I do sometimes miss zoom meetings because of that,” Holbert said.