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  • A Juggling Act: How Employers Can Help Students Balance Remote Learning, Employment During Pandemic

    For students, the pandemic has presented its fair share of challenges. From adapting to remote learning to decreased social interactions with friends, students have had to be resilient these past few months. Many local high school students have also been juggling employment with remote learning, adding additional challenges for themselves and their schools to make sure they remain successful in their academics.
     
    Santa Maria High School leadership estimates that about 40% of their high school students have part time jobs, a number that is higher than it was prior to remote learning. “In many cases, students are assisting their families and providing income,” explained Shanda Herrera, Principal at Pioneer Valley High School. “Because of this, they may have to choose between schoolwork or assisting their families financially.”
     
    Steve Campbell, Principal at Santa Maria High School, says he has also seen students struggling more with the balance of work and school during the pandemic. “Students are working on days during the week when they would have normally been on campus in active studies,” Campbell explained. “The additional time the students work competes with the time they would normally have spent on academics and it plays a real factor.”
     
    Local high schools say employers can help by keeping an open communication with their student employees.
     
    “I would encourage our local employers to ask students about their school progress and encourage students to share when they have high stress school weeks,” Herrera said. “Communicate with your employees and allow flexibility if a student may need a shift covered or a schedule change.”
     
    Campbell agrees that open communication and flexibility on the side of employers is helpful to students during this challenging time. “I would like employers to know how mightily our students are struggling to hold down work hours, school assignments, and home life, all in this COVID19 environment,” Campbell explained.
     
    Amy Lopez, School Board President for Santa Maria Joint Union High School District, says that it is truly a community wide effort to support local students and their families through this challenging time.
     
    “We know that many of our students have part time jobs to help support their families. Local employers can support working students by simply asking ‘how's it going?’,” Lopez explained. “I think it's important to acknowledge the difficulties of balancing school, work and family responsibilities. Especially now, with COVID-19, I would ask employers to be patient, flexible and considerate.”
     
    “The Chamber recognizes that this is a really complex issue, both for our employers and for the students and their families,” said Glenn Morris, Chamber President & CEO.   “Businesses – especially family-operated businesses – need the work that these young people perform; students need the work experience as they identify and prepare for career paths, and the families need the income contributions.   We believe that all parties will benefit even more if there is increased communication & collaboration on all parts.”