Student workers risk Covid-19 while keeping economy steady

The economy is riding on Generation Z.


courtesy of Victoria Crompton

Braden Weinel cuts a pizza at work while wearing a face mask during the Covid-19 outbreak.

by Braden Weinel, Editor-in-Chief

The days are routine:  wake up late, video games, exercise, take a nap, talk to friends.

Students in Frederick County, Maryland have been conducting distance learning from the comfort of their homes for more than a month.

Many students, however, are taking on extra shifts and working longer hours. After the March 23 closure of all non-essential businesses in the state due to the outbreak of Covid-19, this left gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, hospitals, and food delivery services, among others, open. A large group of these employees are high school students. 

“I never really thought about not working. Ledo’s is considered an essential business, so I continued to work,” said Ledo’s Pizza employee, junior Skylar Stevenson.

According to a Lancer Media Twitter poll, 40% of previously employed LHS students are still working through this country-wide quarantine. 

For some families, finances may be completely dependent on a teenager. Some people even consider the economy to be riding on Generation Z.  At Domino’s Pizza in Mount Airy, Maryland, 80% of the employees still on the job are between the ages of 15-25. According to Maryland Covid-19 statistics, this is the least likely age range to become seriously ill. These young adults, however, can be carriers of the disease. 

Many parents have been forced to work remotely, but for  Jennifer Gonzalez, Skylar’s mother, not much has changed. Gonzalez worked from home prior to the outbreak of Covid-19. Gonzalez has some concern about her daughter’s safety, but Hogan’s frequent updating of policies has made her less worried.

“Prior to Gov. Hogan putting in place mandatory face masks in the public, I was nervous and anxious about places being open, but now that this is in place, I’m not as concerned and feel pretty comfortable with essential business being open,” said Gonzalez. “It does make me anxious when she [Skylar] is at work, but I know Ledo’s takes as many precautions as they can.”

At Ledo’s Pizza,the employees have been wearing masks and gloves during work hours, in addition to hanging transparent shields over the register counters. They also wipe down counters and door handles every 30 minutes. Their new policy also includes allowing only two customers in the store at one time.

The changes made due to Covid-19 have affected students’ work schedules. Stevenson has reduced the number of shifts she works because of other college students coming home.  This group is also looking for employment. Even though his place of employment is not seating at tables, senior Ethan Zirkle, employee at Laurienzo’s, has kept his same schedule and works the same amount of hours.

Sophomore at Shenandoah University, Olivia Weinel works at Rattlewood Golf Course. Rattlewood is closed, so Oliva  got a new job at Domino’s Pizza. 

In a reversal of the older sibling getting the younger sibling a job, Weinel turned to her “little brother.” “I was getting bored of the my same routine at home, and I wanted to make some money,” said Weinel. “My brother has worked at Domino’s for a long time so I asked him to get me a job.”

Braden Weinel, an employee at Domino’s Pizza in Mount Airy, has had to pick up more shifts, which is both good and bad. Since he has been working more, he has been making more money; however, these extra hours add stress to his typical day and increase exposure. By working more, Weinel comes in close proximity with more of the community. On a typical work day, Weinel spends about five hours around eight other employees.  

Domino’s Pizza has taken food safety even one step further by not allowing any customers in their store. Most businesses have switched to delivery and curb-side pick-up only. 

While most of the time working it is considered a hassle, some students now use it as an escape from what’s going on around them. 

“It allows me to get out of the house during quarantine,” said senior Colby Huston, employee at California Tortilla

The Maryland Stay-at-home order has been in effect for one month and many students are continuing the responsibility of work. These students are ensuring that our local economy does not fluctuate too much and that other citizens get the necessities they need, such as food, water, and even toilet paper. Due to the remaining employees of essential businesses our word can feel somewhat normal still.