Working students have found many changes within their jobs during the long-term COVID-19 pandemic, in cleaning procedures, customer reactions, and hourly changes.
“I work at Walmart in Black River Falls as a stocker, backroom worker, and truck loader. I have worked there for almost five months,” said junior Blake Williams.
Walmart’s changes have not only affected the workers but customers as well. The store hours have changed multiple times to allow workers to have time for secure cleansing. They also have ensured the safety of customers as they are taking employees temperatures at the beginning of shifts and enforcing wearing facemasks.
“Walmart counts people as they enter and leave the building, as well as sanitize all carts, make customers wear face masks, and created spots on the floor to direct traffic to keep people six feet apart,” said Williams. “I think these changes at Walmart have been beneficial to stop the spread of COVID.”
Other workplaces are taking similar precautions for the pandemic. Theta Dal Cerro works for Three Bears Resort in Warrens and has similar before-work procedures, including hourly changes, temperatures being taken before the beginning of shifts and cleaning the facility. The only difference is Three Bears is not heavily enforcing the wearing of face masks while working–or attending.
“None of my coworkers wear masks, and on the off chance they do, they’ll put it under their nose. I am honestly very surprised there hasn’t been an outbreak at my workplace yet, as barely anybody wears masks or practices any sort of social distancing,” said junior Theta Dal Cerro.
Dal Cerro worked throughout the summer to create college saving as well as have some extra spending for the summer. She said that if there were to have been cases at Three Bears, she would not have attended work. As of currently, she feels safe attending her job.
Many other workplaces have enforced the mask mandate that is currently happening in Wisconsin. The mandate, which began August 1, requires all people to wear face masks while attending public areas that are enclosed. This mandate currently ends September 28.
“COVID has changed my job because I have been required to wear a mask for about three months now, and it has been more difficult to interact with customers because of this. If it wasn’t mandated to wear a mask, I wouldn’t. I hate it,” said senior Bryan Bluedorn, who works at Hansen’s IGA in Black River Falls
Though there currently is a face mask mandate, not everyone chooses to follow it.
“At Walmart, we have a person who stands outside and tells people to put their mask on before they get inside. However, some people will take the mask off once they get into the store because they don’t want to have the mask on. I don’t force people to wear their face mask if they don’t want to I’m not going to argue with them to put it on,” said Williams.
Despite the challenges, these students have been able to remain safe at work.
“I feel very safe attending work, we disinfect every piece of our equipment and wear masks. We also record our temperatures before every shift. Customers have also asked me if I feel safe at work and I always tell them yes,” said Bluedorn.
There is a sense of danger amidst us, as there is always a chance of a customer having an active case of COVID-19.
“A couple of customers have asked me if I feel safe at work, and my answer varies on if I think that person is reasonable and willing to accept that my job is dangerous right now or not. Not a whole lot other than if I feel safe coming to work. Honestly, if they’re going to a waterpark right now I don’t think they care too much about how other people feel about the pandemic. People [are] thinking it is a “hoax,” or not as dangerous as it actually is. I have people in my life who are immunocompromised, and my going to work puts them at risk. People need to realize that this isn’t just about them getting sick, it’s about other people as well,” said Dal Cerro.
With all of the setbacks, there have been some beneficiaries to the pandemic.
“I haven’t struggled during this pandemic because I had a pay increase, more time to fish, more time to do house projects, and other little pick-up work. I feel I had more benefits to the pandemic than I did setbacks or problems,” said Williams.