By Hayley Babbitt

With government policies growing stricter in an effort to slow the spread of  the coronavirus, there is no doubt that supermarkets are one of the most high-risk places to catch the illness. Although several stores nationwide have implemented new and “safer” ways to shop.  Even with following social distancing guidelines, chains like Meijer have now released that some employees are testing positive for COVID-19.

Now that schooling is virtual, many Grand Rapids Community College students who are essential workers are picking up more hours. Hayden Karnes, a 19-year-old student at GRCC, is a security worker at Target.

“I’ve moved into more of a cleaning position because we have to keep everyone else safe,” Karnes said. “This also messes with how security is done. Since we cannot go hands on with our job, more people could get away with things like stealing.”

Jacob Israde, also a first year student at GRCC and employee at Target, shared with The Collegiate about his struggles in the new workplace environment.

“Without the proper environment of a classroom, it’s hard to come to the right mindset and attempt to do the work,” Israde said.

School hasn’t been the only struggle for Israde, who is also dealing with the challenges that come with social distancing.

“Being an essential worker, being drowned in school work, not knowing when I’ll see my girlfriend, it’s hard waking up,” he said.

Aside from supermarkets, restaurants that are continuing drive-thru service are also taking extra measures of caution and making adjustments to workplace protocol. Ally Peters, a current junior at Byron Center High School, is working at Chick-Fil-A amidst the lockdown.

“Mobile orders have been crazy, the drive-thru has been packed,” Peters said. “We have to wear masks and gloves, and wash our hands every 30 minutes.”

Walking through grocery stores during these times of social distancing and self-quarantine highlights how the shopping experience has changed..  Staff at Family Fare, like many chain stores, have placed arrows on the floor throughout the aisles that point which way traffic can move throughout the store. Aisles also have signs that read “One Way,” all in the effort to keep shoppers at least six feet apart. 

Chains like Chick-Fil-A, along with other fast food restaurants, are dealing with extensive lines in the drive-thru in efforts to follow social distancing guidelines. As Peters told The Collegiate, restaurants are focusing on cleanliness and sanitation in the food-preparation areas.

During the current stay-at-home order, the economy is depending on these essential workers to keep businesses alive.