Ashley Kitch, juggling shifts and schoolwork

Junior+Ashley+Kitch+in+front+of+her+computer+screen+participating+in+online+school.

Junior Ashley Kitch in front of her computer screen participating in online school.

TOWAMENCIN – After a mentally draining day of virtual schooling, Ashley Kitch shuts her glowing computer screen with a prolonged sigh. She then proceeds to put on a simple but drab, gray uniform and transition into the next phase of her day– waitressing.

Although Kitch has been working since the age of 15, her ample experience in the service industry had not prepared her for what was to come in the new year. Working as a waitress at the retirement community, Brittany Pointe Estates, had become second-nature to her– that is until the coronavirus hit. All of a sudden, serving anything to the elderly residents became dangerous and unsafe.

“Brittany Pointe changed a lot,” Kitch reflected. “We have to work harder to compensate for the residents especially because it’s dangerous for them,” Kitch said.

We have to work harder to compensate for the residents especially because it’s dangerous for them”

— Junior Ashley Kitch

Being an essential worker, it became mandatory that Kitch and her co-workers adapt to this uncertain and unfamiliar situation with ease and care for the residents of Brittany Pointe.

“When quarantine hit, everything had to be in packages, there was no open food, everyone had to wear gloves, masks, and none of the residents were allowed to touch anything. We went from having 108 tables to 56, so we cut it in half,” Kitch said.

The staff grew accustomed to things like the COVID screenings they were required to pass every time they entered the workplace.

“They take my temperature, ask if I have felt symptoms, ask if I have been around anyone who felt symptoms, ask if I’ve been around anyone who has a positive or pending COVID test, ask if I have been tested because of symptoms, and if I answer no to all of them and have a fever that is below 100, I get to go to work,” Kitch said.

Despite the massive amounts of change Brittany Pointe Estates encountered at the beginning of quarantine, workers and management were able to find their footing once again. The summer months flew by and then the high-school staff began to face a new problem, virtual school. Trying to accommodate their shifts with their schoolwork has been nothing short of a challenge. More specifically for Kitch, a once short 15-minute walk away from the high school became a tedious 25-minute drive from her house.

“At Brittany Pointe, I clock in at 3:15 but I clock out when we’re done. I clock out when we’re closed and when everything’s clean. If my co-workers don’t do their job and I’m there until 9:00 and then it’s a half an hour drive home, I’m not home until 9:30,” Kitch explained.

Kitch, along with many other working students, believe that teachers should take into consideration that some of them work longer hours after school. She believes this should be especially thought about when teachers are giving out homework.

“I think teachers just need to understand that, at least for my shift, I don’t have control over when that shift ends, so if I get home at 9:30 and I have 3 hours of homework, I might not be able to do the homework,” Kitch said.

I think teachers just need to understand that, at least for my shift, I don’t have control over when that shift ends so if I get home at 9:30 and I have 3 hours of homework, I might not be able to do the homework”

— Ashley Kitch

Juggling virtual school, work, sports, and homework has not been an easy adjustment but tends to become more routine day after day for Kitch. Navigating it all seems daunting at times, but she reminds herself of the benefits that come with her job and finds herself feeling grateful.

“I made a lot of good friends and it’s a good environment to learn how to talk to people from all walks of life. I get to work with a lot of different people and I am really thankful for that.” Kitch said.