By News Editor Elyanna Calle
Graphics provided by Jasmine Shea
As most students deal with a whole new life of quarantine, isolation, and online school, a handful have found themselves at the front lines of this pandemic. COVID-19 has caused many employees to be deemed “essential workers,” and some of these jobs are held by Timberline students.
Senior Sam Whitt works at Safeway, “It feels good but also off putting to be an essential worker right now,” said Whitt. “Going off to work every day while my parents stay at home is just something that I never expected to happen.”
Working at Safeway meant senior Jasmine Shea saw the first effects of the Coronavirus. “When it first started, it was like a scene out of an apocalypse movie,” said Shea. “I have never seen such greed among the customers until now. After the schools shut down, the store was insanely packed and was left with little food by the end of the weekend.”
With sickness constantly looming around, workers must take precautions. “Every worker has to wear a mask, and right as we clock in we have to perform a COVID screening (a series of questions) before we are allowed to work.” said Whitt. These precautions are for the safety of employees and customers. “Now more than ever I find myself washing my hands constantly, as well as being very much aware of what I touch…my job is very hands-on so breaking social distancing is almost inevitable”¨ said Shea.
Senior Emily Kim works at a senior retirement home, which means being around high-risk people. Kim said, “For the staff, some of us are genuinely fearful of not only the chance of giving something to our residents but bringing something [home] too.” However, Kim also sees it as a chance to help. “For our residents, the main problem is having to stay in their rooms all day…so we try to cheer them up since we are the few people who can see them.”
Along with being a crucial part of the community, these students are also required to participate in online school. “I’ve only had one incident so far where I had to miss an online class for work, so I’ve had to rearrange my work schedule to accommodate,” said Shea. For other workers, it is more of a problem, “The biggest [issue] is just trying to adjust to online classes and working my shifts around that, along with simply finding enough time to get everything done,” said Whitt.
Coronavirus has placed these students in a position they never expected; Shea has experienced this first hand “customers come in and praise us for being there, which feels kinda weird because I’m just doing my job.” In a time where millions of people are out of work and struggling, Kim realizes she is in a unique situation. “I feel grateful that I am one of few fortunate people who gets to keep their job.”