In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, working from home has become the new norm. But there are some who continue to go to work during these strange times. While a student’s work is predominately academic, many PA students are employed by essential businesses.  They now find themselves balancing school from home with their usual work with additional fear of health risks. 

Helena Peppin ’20 works almost every day at her local Target. Peppin remarks, “I cannot imagine my life without going to work; I think I would go crazy if I did not go”. 

Like so many others, Peppin had gotten used to her daily routine: get up, go to school, go to work, return home which has now adapted to: get up, sign into school, go to a longer work day, return home. 

Essential worker Helena Peppin ’20 poses with her fellow employees.

“Sometimes work can get a little scary when customers come in in masks and gloves; it is hard not to get intimidated”. Despite some fear, Peppin continues to work up to 12 hour shifts doing everything from online orders to restocking shelves. 

For Kelsey Friesz ’20, work has continued, but changed. Friesz’s Starbucks location was temporarily closed in order to ensure the health of the workers and customers. However, Friesz did not let this stop her from working. She took a job as a personal shopper as well as a cashier at Target, not only qualifying her as essential worker, but demonstrating work an essential part of her own routine. 

“Working is a necessity for me; not having a job was not an option” Friesz laughed while recalling Starbucks being closed. Both Friesz and Peppin take into account the dangers of working. One can spot them both “masked up” at their local target.

Illustration portrays various essential workers “masked up” for work.

Parents and students alike feel the tension brought on by new working conditions. One PA parent noted, “I get scared when my kid leaves for work. I was told to stay home to stay healthy, but we need workers”.

Every day health care, maintenance, grocery, and even food service employees put their health at risk going to work in order to help those in need and keep things moving, even at a slowed pace. Within the PA community there are doctors, nurses, professionals and so many more who are helping those around them without fail. To those and the loved ones that support them, PA says thank you.