Graphic by Cael Hill
The summer is normally a time when high school students can apply for jobs and earn money without the constraints of school. But this spring has not been very normal. The restrictions put in place due to the novel coronavirus may mean students will be unable to get a job this summer. The current order dictates that the shelter-in-place will end shortly after this school year, so students supposedly should be able to apply for summer jobs. But since its beginning back in March, the end to the shelter-in-place has continually been delayed. At this moment, it is hard to plan for what is to come.
Whether or not students will have the opportunity to apply for summer jobs is not necessarily up to the local businesses. That decision is up to the County Health Department. Recently though, some restrictions have been lifted by the Contra Costa County. Some non-essential businesses have been given the permission to reopen with certain guidelines. Even if the shelter-in-place lasts into the summer, students may still have opportunities for summer jobs outside of essential businesses.
Essential businesses that supply food, such as restaurants and grocery stores, are places that students will often apply for jobs. One such business is the Walnut Creek Extreme Pizza, locally owned and operated by Dave Wright. Wright is also the father to a Las Lomas sophomore, Keilah Wright, and an incoming freshman, Sophie Wright. “We love to hire [Las Lomas] students. We have several on our team right now and are grateful for the contributions they make. Currently, we’re staffed up pretty well. I’m trying to give hours to our current employees and actually prioritizing the employees who must earn money to help their families over high school kids who are looking more for spending-money,” said Wright. “Many of our employees have second jobs elsewhere in the economy. If they’ve been laid-off from those jobs, I’ve tried to find them more hours at Extreme Pizza. We’re uniquely positioned to ride through these tough times a little better than other restaurants.”
One of the largest employers of student workers is the City of Walnut Creek. The Arts and Recreation Department will often hire many students for the summer. “We generally have a staff of about 100 lifeguards, swim instructors, and pool managers for the summer…We do anticipate hiring students this summer and we continue to hire and staff year-round. We offer flexible schedules and competitive rates as well as the opportunity to be outside and in the sun and water. Our team is made up of dedicated individuals ages 15 to 25,” said Steven Thomas, an aquatics coordinator for the city. “While we are not exactly sure what the guidelines set by the county will be, we do anticipate bringing on additional staff. All of our staff must have an American Red Cross Lifeguard Training Certificate that they will be able [to use] through [the] City of Walnut Creek or other aquatic facilities once they resume business.” Thomas encourages students with questions about aquatics, job opportunities, or lifeguard training to email him at SThomas@walnut-creek.org
Without much assurance to the future and local economy, summer jobs may be scarce. But with the recent lifting of certain restrictions, more businesses may be able to hire students. Regardless, students will likely have to be creative and adaptable about how they earn income.