Students continue working during COVID-19 pandemic

How three students adapted to new work regulations

A summer or part-time job as a high schooler is a big step in growing up. You get to learn responsibility, punctuality, time management and earn yourself some money. All in all, working as a high schooler is pretty beneficial. 

When the pandemic hit, businesses all over the country were shaken up, and most operations were put to a halt for quite some time. This includes some students at Annandale. Any student working a job either had their work lives flipped entirely upside down from new regulations or completely put on hold.

In the case of junior Isabel Dalsimer, it was the latter. Over the summer for many years prior, she had worked the front desk for her neighborhood pool. She was in charge of checking guests in and managing some day-to-day operations. 

However, everything changed this year when community pools had to open later in the season and came with lots of occupancy and employee regulations.  

“At the beginning of the season, my boss said we might be able to work in Phase two. Phase two became Phase three, and eventually, things got crazy and we were told that we wouldn’t be able to come back,” Dalsimer said

”I missed it, especially the part where I made money,” she said.

Not only does working provide income, but it also gives students something to do when summer gets a bit too long. 

“I got pretty bored, so instead I exercised, baked and watched YouTube a lot,” Dalsimer said. 

Juniors Megan Brown and Zack Hurd have kept working throughout the pandemic, with both of their workplaces remaining open since Virginia’s state of emergency was declared in early March 2020. Hurd works at a grocery store, which, under COVID-19 regulations, was designated as an essential business.As with anything affected by the virus, there were lots of changes to health protocols and other routine procedures. 

“To start with protocols, our store hours changed from 24 hours to 17 which was huge,” Hurd said. 

The Center for Disease Control recommends that grocery stores clean extensively and adjust shifts for employees to reduce the risk of contamination, thus the shortened hours. 

“We also are required to clean off every register of self-checkout scanners after 3 uses to maintain a clean work area,” Hurd said.

“I work at a grocery store, so we have to deal with baskets and carts that have been touched by lots of people, which is definitely a high amount of risk, for both employees and customers,” Hurd said. 

Brown, on the other hand, works at a local bakery, which falls under the category of food services, and was able to stay open.

“Throughout the whole pandemic, we never closed,” Brown said. 

Her workplace enforced strict regulations from the start, from temperature checks at the beginning of each shift to a low customer occupancy limit with no exceptions.

“We have hand sanitizer stations all over for both customers and employees and we’re told to stay home if we feel even a little sick,” Brown said. 

“Obviously, masks are required for both customers and employees and we also only let 4 people in at a time.” 

No one is allowed to eat in the bakery to minimize the risk and protect workers and patrons the most they can. 

“I think I encounter a decent amount of risk every time I go to work. Overall though, I do think we’ve done a good job following such strict safety precautions,” Brown said. 

COVID-19 has changed a lot, and businesses and people’s jobs haven’t gone unaffected. With the vaccine getting distributed bit by bit, there is hope that life will slowly begin to return to normal. The question on everyone’s mind though, is what in our normal world will remain changed. 

Will the grocery stores keep cleaning procedures? Will hand disinfectant stations be set up in more stores than before? Only time will answer those questions.