Coronavirus affects students’, owners’ jobs in retail, service businesses

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Grace Hutton

Sophomore Grace Hutton poses in her Goldfish Swim School shirt. Hutton served as a swim teacher at the school until it temporarily closed following the stay-at-home order due to COVID-19.

Kiersten Riedford

Goldfish Swim School has recently temporarily let go of all of their staff members due to the latest stay-at-home order. This, unfortunately, has taken away sophomore Grace Hutton’s job as a swim teacher, along with many other adults’ jobs. 

Hutton said, “I think closing temporarily was the right choice; however, I’m still a minor and dependent on my parents, so it has not impacted me as much as the people who work there for a living.”

But Hutton is not alone: many students that normally have jobs during the school year or summer time have been either laid off or the businesses they work for have temporarily closed. Senior Alex Madvig, a sales associate in the Camping and Climbing department at Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), said his job is being heavily impacted by the pandemic. 

“Most retail employees, such as myself, are furloughed for 90 days from April 15 until July 15,” Madvig said. “I also believe there is a fair chance I will be fired because we have a lot of employees, and we will be scaling back to only what is necessary.”

Despite the grievances some businesses have had due to the pandemic, Jeremy Stacy, owner of J. Stacy Landscaping and AP Physics teacher, said his business has been benefitting from the situation. 

Stacy said, “At the moment we have not seen a slow down; if anything we have seen an increase in requests for work.”

Stacy also added that he is looking forward to finding new recruits for his business due to the unemployment rate. 

He said, “(The business) thinks that (the virus) will put out of business all the small companies who could not withstand the pandemic and we also think that there will be more employees to choose from since many small companies in other industries won’t open back up so those people will need work, and we will be willing to hire them since we have more work than employees every year.”

While this is fortunate for many adults, the teenagers of CHS will have a hard time trying to find a job. A key reason for this, as shown by the Financial Times, is that the work industry is looking to hire in many fields, but most specifically technology, and all of these jobs require at least a college degree. 

But, while students like Hutton have said they are saddened by the loss of their jobs, at least temporarily, they believe closing down the businesses was a necessity for the health of their customers. 

At Goldfish, we are interacting with lots of people and lots of kids,” Hutton said. “It is a super easy place for sickness and bacteria to spread, so it was best not to risk it. I think it was also inevitable because we would have gone out of business anyway due to parents being out of work and not being able to spend money on swim lessons and wanting to keep their children safe.” 

Madvig also said that safety and the priority of adults over high schoolers for jobs are important. 

We decided to close mainly for the safety of our customers,” he said. REI is a fantastic company and organization that looks out for its members, and between the store not having much foot traffic and having a lot of employees there that were not doing anything, it was definitely the right decision to make. Our online stores have been open the entire time, and that’s been our main way of making money.”

Many businesses nationwide have made choices to create a safe environment for their customers. According to Business Insider, over 90 major U.S. retailers have temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Several of these retailers, such as Kohl’s, which is offering online shopping, and Pandora Jewelry, which is offering deliveries of products free of contact, continue the push for social distancing.

Stacy added that his business is taking all the precautions while his employees are continuing to work. 

He said, “We are doing our best at social distancing as well as practicing good hygiene like (the WHO and CDC) tell us too (in order) to keep our employees healthy. Being an outside job, there is very little human contact, which is why we are allowed to stay open.”

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