Brave Students Still Working During Coronavirus Lockdown.

Horfanel Vivero and Viktorija Tvaskunaite have been putting in hours as Essential Workers during the COVID Quarantine era that began in mid-March.
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Emma Walis

Emma Walis

Torch Guest Writer

As Blazers adapt to life in quarantine after social distancing rules led to the cancelation of face to face classes for the remainder of the school year, many teens in Addison are stepping up in the nation’s time of crisis to serve as essential workers.

Among the many students who are working are AT juniors Horfanel Vivero, Jasmine Reyes, and Viktorija Tvaskunaite, who describe how their lives have been affected by working during the Coronavirus quarantine during these past few weeks.

All three students have placed more awareness into the jobs they work in as they are concerned for their well-being. “It is scary to know that there are people without jobs at the moment,” Horfanel stated.

Jasmine Reyes

However, Jasmine struggles with the concept she still has to work: “It’s hard for me to think about because I work six out of the seven days of the week and I get very tired and exhausted and I just see people getting their homework and relaxing and it just makes me upset.”

Due to the transition to online school, each student reported feeling more stressed and anxious which results from the repeated worry from Coronavirus. With sports, school and work, at times Horfanel doesn’t have the chance to complete his homework. On the other hand, Jasmine worries about the spreading of the virus through contact with boxes and objects touched by others. “I work in a warehouse and we touch many things and there’s many people so you have to be very cautious of what you’re doing. Some people there don’t take the virus seriously and it stresses me out.”

At Chipotle, Viktorija struggles with customers who don’t follow the safety regulations. “We had sectioned off the dining room so that customers wouldn’t sit there and all the food was automatically bagged to go. There were customers that would go around the barriers to sit down and un-bag their food. I had to kick them out and then thoroughly sanitize the whole area.”

She proceeded to say that some of the customers would even start arguing with her. When they opened Chipotle to indoor orders, she said, “I’ve already had to argue with people because to be able to come in and order they have to wear a mask. I intercept them and tell them if they want to order they have to wear a mask. Some are fine with it but others ask to use MY mask so they can order because they don’t have their own. Most of the time I just feel annoyed because some customers are so entitled and rude.”

During this time, Horfanel, Reyes and Viktorija claimed they felt concerned for their health and are still bothered by this fact. Horfanel ended up taking a “two week leave because [he] was concerned for [his] health.”

However, he decided to return once his restaurant began to offer better safety precautions. Similarly, Jasmine is worried for her health due to long hours and a previous history of medical conditions.

Luckily, each student is given face masks as well as gloves and sanitizer. Horfanel’s manager is strict on washing touched surfaces and hands hourly and Viktorija makes sure she washes her hands after every interaction with a customer. When asked if she felt masks and gloves were needed materials, Jasmine responded, “We do need them because we touch many things around the warehouse and a lot of people are close together.”

Although regulations are pushing for the six foot rule to keep people safe, Jasmine stated, “We don’t have enough space for people so we do two at each desk, some people are back to back.”

Horfanel Vivero & Viktorija Tvaskunaite

Horfanel said, “At times, we could have up to 12 people in a small area.”

Viktorija too stated, “I can try to stay away from them but at certain times we will have to be closer than the six feet apart rule.” This is not a choice they have.

Despite the tension and stress of work, Jasmine and Horfanel feel proud to be one of the workers still in the field. “I feel proud of working because if any of my family members lose their job I know I can help support the house financially,” said Horfanel.

Likewise, Jasmine said, “I do feel a little proud of working because we are helping people who cannot go out and buy groceries and cleaning supplies for their house.”

Although Viktorija does not have a strict opinion about being a proud worker, she claims, “I do feel proud when we get an order from a hospital or other medical facility since we send them free burritos. Being there to decorate the boxes and make the food makes me happy that I could do something.”

When asked if he felt it was worth it to work for his amount of pay, Horfanel said, “No I do not. Many other locations that are still open have offered more money to work but we have not.” He feels since he is a “drive through cashier and comes into contact with nearly 300 people a day” he should earn a little more. However, Viktorija and Jasmine believe it is worth their pay. Jasmine said her “mom and dad haven’t been to work in a while so (I) can help out with bills and groceries.”

Viktorija observed, “Chipotle has increased their pay by 10% for each hour worked. If we get sick with corona and can’t work we will also get a paycheck for two weeks that is our average amount of hours worked.”

Only Viktorija’s job is offering this kind of paycheck, however, meaning if Horfanel and Jasmine contract the virus, they will no longer be able to rely on their job for money.

Since there has been an increase in demand for online orders, Jasmine revealed, “Our work schedule has become more strict. We need many people in for the whole week.” Although customers cannot sit and eat in the restaurant, Horfanel found himself working full time hours since he works the drive through. Coronavirus has worked in favor for Viktorija as she can now work openings and closings any day of the week. “Since I get called in to cover shifts, she said, “I’m actually working about 30 – 40 hours every week.”

All three students have a choice to work, however Jasmine’s boss prefers everyone does. “I do have a choice but at the same time not really. Our boss let’s us take a while off because of Corona but he prefers for no one to do that.”

Each student is helping their families by working. Viktorija explains, “My mom is a single parent and her hours got cut, it would make the already hard quarantine even harder. All the extra money is saved in case something happens and we need it. Basically it’s our emergency fund.”

In conclusion, each student has an inspiring reason to go to work and, despite the concerns of close spaces, they continue braving out the storm. Although they have to take safety precautions, working gives the student a sense of pride and optimism in the community, knowing they are helping people when they do. AT could never be prouder to have hard-working and brave individuals like Jasmine, Horfanel and Vikorija.