Working on Campus During a Pandemic

by Caryn Maltby

As classes are shifting to online and more and more people are beginning to work from home, I have been given the opportunity to continue to work at my on-campus job as a student worker.

Not that everything else hasn’t, but the rules of my job have changed drastically since the Corona Virus began to spread across the United States. I am a student worker at Texas State University in the Network Operations department, and when the stay at home order was issued for San Marcos, I got really nervous. As a student worker, I don’t get paid sick leave or paid time off. “If students don’t show up, they don’t get paid,” my boss stated.

I am extremely grateful that my job is considered essential as I would not be able to pay my bills without my paycheck.  However, how things are done at my job have changed. My boss sends out all of the technicians with gloves, sanitizing wipes and face masks out of an abundance of caution. “If any of you don’t feel comfortable being here, please request time off and I will approve it with no questions asked.” She said in the biweekly stand up meeting. “I understand this is a difficult time, and I want everyone to feel safe while they are doing their jobs.” At least two people in my office work from home as they are able to unlike the technicians, and one of my coworkers had to self-quarantine for 2 weeks as he was potentially exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

The university has been proactive in taking cautionary measures against the Corona Virus, to the point where working from home has become the new norm. Parking, which was once scarce, has now become more plentiful than ever; one can leave campus, come back and snag their original parking spot. The university has also decided to provide free lunches for those who are still working on campus in person. At the Harris Dining Hall, one can get a free meal which includes a hot protein entrée, a vegetable and a starch along with 2 cookies and a water bottle by just showing their Texas State ID. Thankfully, student workers are also taken into consideration and can also choose to get a free meal.

This is the line for the free lunch provided by the university, the poles are placed 6 feet apart for social distancing measures, you must wear a mask in order to pick up food and you are required to bring a valid Texas State University ID in order to receive a meal.
This is at the front of the line, the table to the left is for individual orders and the table to the right is for orders of 3 or more meals. Departments must email the people at Harris by 5pm the day before in order to pick up multiple meals.
This was on the second day of the free meal option, the first day the line was over 15 people long. Here people are waiting to pick up orders for their department.
My coworker and I take frequent walks during the day to get some sun and exercise, we always go by the ponds near JCK and for now it’s completely empty, we never see people walking around anymore.
Here is a photo near the Theater Building. No people to be found, but we do see squirrels and ducks from time to time.
Sewell park looks emptier than ever, which is a rare sight when it starts to get warmer outside. Normally there’s people waiting by the sign to get picked up by the Campus Loop bus or are heading into Sewell to sunbathe or play sand volleyball. There are orange barriers all the way around the park to prevent people from getting in.
Sophomore Lauren Roper takes a stroll on the bridges by JCK. “I love being outside in the sunshine, it makes me sad that I can’t go out much anymore,” Roper stated.
A maintenance worker’s vehicle waits idly by the JCK building.
Although there aren’t very many people on campus, there are still an estimated 200+ students staying in the dorms as they didn’t have anywhere else to go. Due to this, the Texas State busses are still running on a limited route to accommodate those who are still living on campus.
The Edward Gary Street Garage where I work is offering free parking for the time being. Normally, the rates are $14 per day but the gates are temporarily left open for anyone who might need to park on campus.
The Edward Gary Street garage is pretty empty with the exception of a few stray cars. I’ve worked here for almost four years and I’ve never seen the garage this empty, not even on Spring Break or other holidays.
Almost every technician who works in the Network Operations department has had a decrease in work due to everyone working from home and a decline in Cherwell tickets. Here are their trucks on the first floor of the Edward Gary garage, most of them would usually be out on campus at this time during the day.
Annie Watkins works on a camera that will be deployed on campus. This particular camera will be going to Jowers. Watkins took two weeks off following the announcement of a Shelter in Place order due to COVID-19, but is now back on campus.
Keith Benitez calls a customer to try to fix an issue that they’re having with their phone. Benitez was self-quarantined for two weeks after receiving the news that he was four times removed from someone who was exposed to COVID-19. Benitez never showed any symptoms and is now back at work.
Martinique De Leon Y Pena works as an operator for Texas State University. Here she is answering the phone and talking to someone who had a question about Financial Aid. “We’ve definitely had a decrease in calls since the whole Coronavirus thing started. I’m happy to be here though,” De Leon Y Pena stated.
Lauren Roper works on her essay for history remotely, as classes are now all online. “It has been a big change for me, I’m so used to going in-person that it feels weird not going at all. None of my professors are requiring Zoom meetings though, which I appreciate,” Roper stated.

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