Across television screens and news sources, essential workers have been showered with tributes, saluted with fly-overs and applauded by quarantined families time and time again since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Both current and former BYU-Idaho students find themselves separated between jobs deemed essential and nonessential. Some even find their jobs changed because of the coronavirus.
“My job as a lab communication coordinator is to schedule phlebotomists to take blood samples from various patients,” said Kylie Osborn, a BYU-I alumna. “Since the outbreak, my office has taken in COVID-19 tests to test them, whether they’re positive or negative. It’s been crazy busy, but I’m blessed to have a job right now.”
Other BYU-I students find creative ways to adapt to the changing circumstances.
Brandon Running, a junior studying mechanical engineering, runs a mobile bike repair shop in Rexburg.
“I believe I’m an essential worker because people use their bikes to commute to and from work,” Running said. “Since the outbreak, sales have skyrocketed and people are more willing to come to us for mobile bike repairs.”
But what has happened to nonessential workers?
Unfortunately, some campus jobs deemed nonessential, impacting the students who look to these positions as their main source of income.
“I used to be considered an essential worker, as a janitor on campus,” said Katelyn Barnard, a sophomore majoring in interdisciplinary studies. “Before the governor closed down the school, we … worked to sanitize the George S. Romney Building for the teachers who were still on campus.”
Since the suspension of campus custodial services, Barnard has struggled without the additional income.
“I have a second job I can work from home with, but my hours have been shot immensely,” Barnard said.
Both essential and nonessential working students have scoured job boards, online applications and Zoom interviews to continue to find ways to generate income through this pandemic.
“Hopefully this will be over soon,” Barnard said.