Student-workers have mixed emotions on COVID-19 measures in work study programs

One student worker uses the computer during her shift at the desk in Student Center East. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

For many students, on-campus jobs are a steady source of income that allows for flexible scheduling. But today, with COVID-19 precautions in place, universities across the U.S. have reduced the number of or ceased employing student workers on campus to contain the spread of the virus.

Some universities, like the University of California, Santa Cruz, have found alternative ways to keep students employed and earning income through remote employment and COVID-19 administrative leave with pay

Georgia State has introduced a COVID-19 flexible work arrangements (FWAs) and leave options summary that was revised last month. The document describes the work-leave available to an employee based on various COVID-19 conditions, such as local quarantine orders or reduced operations. 

This summary shows how Georgia State has implemented a variety of CDC-approved measures to provide employment and a safe environment for students, staff and faculty. But it has also brought up some logistical changes for the student work-study experience. 

Before the semester started, Georgia State dining approached sophomore and former employee Arlencia Williams, and asked if she would be interested in being rehired. After expressing interest in returning, Williams was met with silence. 

“I didn’t hear anything after I responded ‘yes’ [to the email], so I went to see them in person,” Williams said. “That’s when a cashier said they weren’t doing student hires, but they never let us know that we wouldn’t have a job to come back to,.” 

The lack of communication put pressure on many students to quickly adjust their plans. 

While university dining will not be hiring students, other campus departments have continued to employ students with new training and protocols in place

Sophomore Shaianne Wicklund works in the University Commons mailroom. Like others who live and work in university housing, Wicklund had to adapt to a new training format and more responsibilities. 

Most of Wicklund’s training was online with a few socially distanced in-person meetups. Georgia State housing has cut shifts so only one person is allowed at a station, and they have added more cleaning protocols.

Wicklund said she feels fairly safe living and working on campus due to the new housing rules for residents. 

“Housing has a lot of protocols in place right now,” she said. “I personally feel pretty secure living on campus, and I haven’t seen anybody break protocol just yet.”

Being a student worker, especially in housing, one gets an inside look into a university trying to keep its community safe.

The COVID-19 prevention measures in place at Georgia State will become the new norm in order to keep campus as safe as possible. Even with all the efforts to keep residential life safe and comfortable, there are hardships that come with working and living in student housing. 

“With everything going on, it might be a little frustrating to follow all of the rules,” Wicklund said. “It’s been hard to go without seeing my friends, but with that being said, I’m grateful for everything that has been put in place.”