By Emily Branson / Staff writer

With the world being in the middle of a pandemic, there is no doubt that students are left in a panic. 

Classes are canceling or switching to online formats, residence halls are closing for the semester, and some students are losing their jobs. With the majority of businesses temporarily closing or shortening their hours, several students at Hutchinson Community College, and colleges across the country, have found themselves in the middle of a crisis, and without an income. 

Clearwater freshman Caitlyn Johnson was recently laid off from her job at Carriage Crossing in Yoder. This lay off came as a shock to Johnson, as she had only heard rumblings of it occurring. 

“It had been talked about and a rumor was going around,” Johnson said. “I didn’t think it would actually happen.”

Some workplaces have offered compensation during this time of hardship. Compensation could be for a number of weeks, or at least until employees have found an alternative answer. For Johnson, that is not the case.

“We are not being compensated at this time,” Johnson said. “They’ve told us ways to file for unemployment, but that’s about it. Once this all passes, we will go back to the normal schedule and if we want to go back, they will gladly take us back.”

Being a college student with bills to pay and rent due, it is hard to imagine the only source of income being taken away without any warning. With no telling of how long this hardship will last, the only option for most students is to apply for another job and hope that they can make it work.

“I am currently applying to other jobs in hopes that I can get another income,” Johnson said. “ I need to pay for my rent and bills.”

Halstead freshman Faith Gruhle is on the other side of this spectrum. Gruhle works in a long-term care facility. At her job, the need for healthy employees is crucial and needed. The facility has needed to implement more precautions and take extreme measures to ensure the health and well-being of all residents and employees.

“Before COVID-19 made it into the US, they didn’t do anything for these kinds of precautions,” Gruhle said. “Now that there have been more cases in Kansas, they have cracked down, and we have to have our temperature taken once we go in to work, and no one is allowed closer than six feet of each other.”

These precautions have helped keep the virus out of the facility but have added more stress for the employees.

“We can only have limited people in the dining rooms,” Gruhle said. “There aren’t any more activities going on, so people aren’t as entertained and in general, it’s stressing out all workers and residents.”

At the end of the day, healthcare workers know that they are protecting people’s lives by keeping themselves healthy and taking on extra duties at their places of employment.

“We are putting ourselves on the front lines of this virus,” Gruhle said. “We can’t just go home. We have to stay there and take care of them no matter what. It’s risking ourselves.”

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