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Unmasked: Part 6 – Families and individuals

The Tryon Daily Bulletin is featuring a seven-part series on the impact of Covid-19 and government restrictions in the Foothills. This series of articles will focus greatly on the opinions of small business owners, local families, churches, health care facilities, schools, etc., and whether they believe government restrictions had a harsher impact than the pandemic itself due to unintended consequences. Its intent is to allow readers to determine if the measures taken to reduce the spread of Covid-19 have taken a greater toll on our community than the virus itself.

 

Landrum hairstylist Laura Langford said she had only a day’s notice before shutting down on April 1 last year.  Originally, she––like most business owners––believed the shutdown would last for only two weeks.

“It ended up being a total of six and a half weeks,” Langford says. As a family, she didn’t worry about finances because her husband’s job was considered essential.

“As a self-employed hairstylist, we did not qualify for traditional unemployment. We had to wait on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to kick in,” Langford says. “That took four weeks.”  

She says she often thought about other stylists who were single or who lived paycheck to paycheck, but Langford says she ended up finding ways to work such as selling retail products and offering contactless pick up.

Over the summer, Langford and her husband decided to homeschool their son. 

“We felt like there was no plan for going back to school. We were told there would be a plan in place by July seventh, and there wasn’t.”

She was concerned about how long students would be in schools, how often they would be going, and what the precautions would be. For the Langford family, there were too many unknowns, so they chose to homeschool their son during the heat of the pandemic and have now decided to send him to a private Christian school next year.

During Langford’s homeschooling of her son, she says, “I’m thankful we didn’t have to worry about masks, plexiglass, being quarantined when exposed, not being able to sit near friends at lunch, et cetera. I really don’t feel like he has missed out on any social experiences not being in a traditional public school.”

According to Census.gov website, during the week of April 23-May 5, 2020, about 5.4% of US households with school-aged children reported homeschooling their children.

By the fall 2020 semester, 11.1% of households with school-aged children reported homeschooling.  

The website states that this rise in statistics was an increase of 5.6% and doubling of households that were homeschooling at the start of the 2020-2021 school year compared to the prior year.

Many people, after receiving unemployment and stimulus checks, are finding it difficult to go back to work.  Langford, however, says that those were nice, “but I would have much rather been able to work and would have gladly traded the check in for work.”

Overall, when considering whether the measures taken to prevent Covid-19 took a greater toll on family’s finances than the virus itself, she says, “For my family, no. For my industry as a whole, yes.”

She goes on to say, “I thought it was insane that we were not able to work, but other unregulated businesses were able to stay open. Salons are regulated by the state, and we have strict safety and sanitations guidelines we have to follow.”

An anonymous Landrum worker claims she made more money with unemployment; however, some people are finding it harder to go back to work knowing they’ll make less than they did with unemployment.  

They went on to say they believe it is fair that some people are not going back to work for that reason.  

“For younger people like myself who did not receive any stimulus checks, I didn’t find it wrong to be utilizing the unemployment benefit set in place.” the anonymous person commented. 

While some people believe the stimulus checks were useless, the Landrum Worker says, “I think the stimulus should be looked at as ‘every little bit helps,’ not ‘that isn’t enough.’”

The pandemic shutdown, Landrum Worker says, did both good and harm. Because some people in healthy environments were able to spend more time together, which they believe was the good aspect of the shutdown.  But they claim that during the shutdown they could only think of families that don’t have such a healthy home life.

“When schools were shut down, I thought about kids who get meals from schools and school only, and that was sad to me,” they commented. 

“Our district did a great job getting food to students, but also some students’ only escape is by going to school, and that was taken from them.”

The anonymous worker believes the shutdown had both harmful effects and good effects on families. She imagines overall that the school closures will have lasting effects on some.

Hairstylist Laura Langford claims that the shutdown, which was supposed to last for only two weeks, lasted for six and a half, and caused her industry to struggle, including other stylists who did not have another source of income. In addition, the restrictions in schools were off-putting enough to convince the Langford’s to homeschool their son and better plan for his future. 

An anonymous Landrum worker worried about those who suffered from the school shutdown and the children’s’ well-being, and she says the shutdown did both harm and good. In addition, they claim that it is fair for those to not go back to work if they are making more money from unemployment.  

The last article in the Covid-19 Unmasked series will continue to share the subjective opinions of individuals in the community. The April 28 edition of the Bulletin will present various perspectives and statistics of Covid-19 from small businesses in the Foothills area.

By Macy Cochran