Students persevere through pandemic with part-time jobs


Photo courtesy of Jon De Leon

Jon De Leon refolds and restocks the jeans showcased on the sales floor at Hollister Pearlridge.

The coronavirus has caused a pandemic that has hurt people physically, emotionally, and financially. Millions of Americans across the country have lost their jobs. Regardless, many Waipahu High School students have taken the initiative to find jobs despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of these students is Kailee Trias. Trias began working at the Waipahu Arby’s in June, during one of the many extensions of the first stay-at-home order. She began working to be able to provide for herself and to save money for her college tuition.

Trias’s workplace spends a lot of the time making sure everything is clean. “We wear gloves and masks from the time we clock in and out. We also disinfect and wipe down both dining and drive-thru areas whether or not we used it much. For precautions I take personally, I wash my hands frequently and don’t go out unless it’s necessary.”

Even with such precautions in place, Trias still has her worries. “I do feel a little unsafe working because there are some customers who either refuse to wear a mask or give us a hard time by getting angry about it. They don’t really care about the situation and it makes feel uneasy especially since I have grandparents at home.”

Trias, along with many other working Waipahu students, has every right to feel uneasy as Waipahu was a “hot spot” of COVID-19 cases during the pandemic.

Another student working during such hardship is Jon De Leon. De Leon picked up not just one, but two jobs. De Leon currently works at Hollister and Jack in the Box. Although his parents are able to financially support him, he chooses to be independent with his personal expenses.

“At Hollister we ensure that there is a 15 person capacity which includes staff,” De Leon explains. “We sanitize all our customers’ hands prior to [their] shopping in the store.”

One of the biggest concerns retailers were facing was the issue of fitting rooms. Many chose to close their fitting rooms, while De Leon’s workplace kept them open with precautions.

“All clothes tried on in the fitting room go to the back storage and ‘quarantine’ for 48 hours before they can return to the shelves.” Jack in the Box is also taking safety precautions, such as having employees change their gloves every 30 minutes.

Essential workers during this time are placed at risk of contracting COVID-19, not just from customers, but also from fellow workers.

De Leon expressed his concern, saying how he feels unsafe working because of the threat of asymptomatic spreaders. “Every customer and co-worker of mine is a potential threat to my health and I am a potential threat to theirs because we don’t know what we do and don’t have.”

COVID-19 has caused the nation massive grief and has put millions out of jobs, but has also allowed several students to begin working despite the circumstances.