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Some students are also essential employees

College students who are employed already find it difficult to manage school and a job, but with a global pandemic now deeming them essential employees, it’s more difficult than ever.

Working during a pandemic comes with its drawbacks — especially fears of getting sick, rude customers and being overworked. If you’re a college student, this list is even longer as you have to squeeze in time to work on your assignments.

Abril Lazaro, a biology major at Del Mar, said the transition has been difficult.

“Online classes are scaring me. I’m used to being an A student and now I feel like all my work is backup and rushed,” said Lazaro, a dental assistant and a cashier at H-E-B. “I also have two lab classes, which have become incredibly confusing to me.” 

The past few months have been a whirlwind for college students who are also trying to adjust to the change to online classes and the long shifts at their jobs. 

For Gabriella Flores, a nursing major at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, it’s difficult to balance being an essential employee and an online college student.

“I already struggled with the course load when I didn’t work that many days and my classes were in person,” said Flores, a manager at Sonic and a cashier at H-E-B. “The course load feels as though it has doubled and working so many days makes me feel like I have little to no time to complete assignments.”

Quarantine, along with most businesses being closed, also plays a role in students’ ability to get work done.

Some students such as Sabrina Delgado, a kinesiology major at Del Mar, said because she has nowhere else to go other than work she has more time to focus on her classes. 

Others, like Lazaro, find the fact that they can only study at home frustrating.

“The most difficult part of classes going online isn’t the fact that they are online, it’s that I have to do it at home,” Lazaro said. “I can’t work at Starbucks or the library like I’m used to doing. It’s hard to focus on school at home.”

These essential employees are also at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 than others and that comes with a whole new set of fears.

According to the Global Economic Forum 10% (14,425,070) of American workers face exposure to COVID-19 infection at work once a week.  

When the essential employees were asked if they feared going to work, the general consensus was yes. 

For some, the fear of becoming infected is even greater.

Hannah Sizemore, a chemistry major at the University of Northern Kentucky, is a certified nurse assistant at a hospital that is only treating COVID-19 patients. 

“I am worried about catching the virus myself,” Sizemore said. “My main concern with this though is spreading it to my fiancé and other patients, in the case that I would be asymptomatic if I had it.”

Although being an essential employee is a frightening job at the moment, all of the essential employees interviewed realize they are necessary in the world and that they all need their job. 

“It makes me happy that I am needed in the world,” Sizemore said. “It’s just in very anxiety inducing times.”

Some like Lazaro also realize how lucky they are to have a job in a country where over 6.6 million are currently unemployed, according to Vox.

“It makes me feel good to know that I have a paycheck when so many others are not that lucky,” Lazaro said.

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