As the number of students in quarantine and contact isolation has risen, campus employment has had to adapt to function with fewer student employees.
The most obvious sign of the growing stress COVID-19 has placed on student employment is AJ’s cafe reduced hours. Due to the increasing number of student employees in quarantine, the cafe now closes at 7:30 p.m. on the weekdays instead of midnight.
As of last Thursday, A.J.’s had 18 student employees in quarantine, including student manager Michaela Frohnen.
“With this last batch, I went into quarantine, as well as the other students who work nights regularly,” Frohnen said. “So Bon Appetit made the decision to shorten the hours of the cafe until we get back.”
Student employment at the contact center has also decreased as a result of the spike in COVID-19 cases on campus. Of its 64 student employees, about one-third are currently in contact isolation.
“Normally, we have people call in dropping shifts because they haven’t been feeling well or because they have to study for a test,” said Elizabeth Turner, assistant director of the contact center. “But recently, we’ve had shifts down to one or two or three agents, which is not normal.”
According to Turner, stress-levels are at an all-time high because adult staff and student leaders have begun taking more calls, which means that supervisors aren’t always available when student employees need help troubleshooting a caller’s problem. .
Although the admissions department has had up to 12 student ambassadors in contact isolation at once, prospective student tours still function as regularly scheduled.
“We’ve been able to navigate it well,” said Zachary Miller, senior director of admissions. “We’ve had to make last minute adjustments to students covering different tours, but we haven’t had to make big changes to visitors schedules.”
Miller attributes the admissions department’s success in the face of COVID-19 to the department’s flexibility with the number of hours student ambassadors work and the number of student ambassadors needed on any given day.
According to Miller, the only change the admission department has made is temporarily canceling overnight dorm visits. Extra dorm rooms are kept empty in case they are needed for students who are contact isolated.
“Hillsdale is bucking the trend, so to speak,” Miller said. “We are really one of the only schools we know of to host guests in the traditional sense. Most other schools, if they are having visitors, are abbreviating their stays, but we still want to give the full Hillsdale experience.”
Management at both A.J.’s and the contact center stressed how flexible students have been adjusting to the challenges of the past few weeks. Despite the extra stress, students at both establishments have been more than willing to cover the shifts dropped by colleagues in quarantine.
According to Fronhen, some students are now working 20-hour weeks. Turner concurred.
“All of our agents are so wonderful, they’ve all been so willing to pick up extra shifts,” she said. “Today we had no one scheduled from our 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. shift and one student who was taking the week off for non-COVID related reasons still volunteered to come in.”