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What Are Non-Educator School Employees Doing Now?

Schools close to slow spread of coronavirus, but cafeteria workers are still preparing lunches for students to be picked up or dropped off on bus routes.
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While schools are closed and cafeterias empty, workers are still preparing lunches for students to be picked up or dropped off on bus routes.

On a typical weekday, Edith Bowen Laboratory School in Logan usually bustles with more than 300 K-5 students, but just before Spring Break, the school’s secretary, Susan Wall, was one of five people in the building due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s eerie," Wall said. "I just miss the kids. The magic of working in a school is being around the kids. They are the magic, and when we're when we don't get to be with them, it's just work.”

There have been many adjustments to the typical school structure in Utah as part of coronavirus-mitigation efforts stemming from Governor Gary Herbert's March 13 announcement of a soft closure.

Teachers are communicating with classes via videoconferencing. Cafeteria staff wave at students through car windows as they hand out lunches, and bus drivers are even helping by dropping those lunches off for parents who can’t make it to the schools. Janitors are inside, busy sanitizing and working on projects usually reserved for summer break, and librarians take books home for repair. Many aids throughout Cache County and Logan pitched in to help teachers get packets together after the shutdown, and Wall says some aids at Edith Bowen were hired on as online tutors to help students. 

But not everyone’s job has transitioned. Some after-school tutors with Cache County School District, like Utah State University student Emma Worsham, were told mid-March that they no longer had a job for the remainder of the school year.

“It has been really hard, actually," she said. "It’s been really hard on my mental health, as far as having something important to do. It’s been stressful. It’s been taxing, for sure, both emotionally and financially.”

While schools are tentatively planning on reopening after May 1, Worsham said her program — which mostly consists of other USU students — has been cancelled.