Temple students face temporary unemployment after statewide business shutdown

Students who work at restaurants, catering companies and museums are out of work until at least March 27.

A restaurant on Girard Avenue near 29th Street displays a sign on its door on March 17 notifying customers of a two week closure. On March 16, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-essential businesses in Pennsylvania to close until at least March 27 to contain the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. MADISON KARAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

While in Spanish class, Sophia Swafford received a text message from her boss notifying her all of her shifts were canceled.

Swafford, a senior human development and community engagement major, works at Five Star Staffing, a catering staffing company on Juniper Street near Walnut. She wanted to pick up more shifts earlier this month after an overwhelming February.

“I was just starting to get back into the groove of being productive and like managing myself,” Swafford added. “It was just really frustrating to me because … it’s not my fault this time, like it’s out of my control.”

On March 16, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-essential businesses in the state to close until at least March 27 to contain the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Grocery stores, big box stores, pharmacies, electronic stores, day care facilities, laundry facilities and hardware stores are set to remain open, while restaurants must operate as take-out only, The Temple News reported.

What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus which was first discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It causes respiratory illnesses. The disease has since spread to dozens of countries, and on March 11, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of coronavirus a pandemic.

Due to the order, many Temple University students with part-time jobs in Philadelphia are now temporarily unemployed.

Jake Bell, a senior history major, works at Laser Wolf, an Israeli restaurant on Howard Street near Thompson. The restaurant had just opened last month, on Feb. 6.

Bell spent spring break in Japan, returning on March 10. After receiving notice from the university that he had to self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning, Bell asked his boss if he had to do the same at work, he said.

“I was like, well, that sucks, but whatever, you know, I’m not going to get paid essentially for a month, but it’s not the end of the world,” Bell added. “I have my parents for help. Not a big deal.”

Laser Wolf has now closed until further notice, Bell said.

Morgan Caswell, a junior physics major, works as a museum educator at The Franklin Institute, a science museum on Race Street near 21st, and as an usher at the Academy of Music, a theater on Broad Street near Locust. Both places are now temporarily closed until March 27 and April 11, respectively.

Their closings come after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended postponing events or gatherings of more than 250 people to limit the spread of the virus.

Caswell found out about her jobs closing first through their company’s Instagrams, then through a company-wide email, she said.

“It’s a little frustrating not to have a job,” she added. “I mean, just, you know, not being able to make money and not being able to get out of my house really sucks. I’m a little frustrated I found out like over Instagram, but at the end of the day, like information really needs to get out to a bunch of people at once and they did follow up.”

At The Franklin Institute, Caswell’s co-workers have worked together to set up a relief fund for employees. However, Caswell doesn’t think that’s enough.

Following the museum’s closing, Caswell and her fellow workers are unsure whether they are coming back as the Institute is suffering financially due to the virus, and may not be able to offer everyone their positions back, she said.

“For me, it’s not like my livelihood to work at the Franklin Institute, but for a lot of my coworkers this is their full-time job and their chosen career,” Caswell said. “I mean, they have college degrees, they studied this kind of thing, and for them to be like, ‘Am I coming back?’ It’s terrible.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.