- Now that school buildings have closed, some Idaho teens are taking on agricultural jobs to earn extra money, The Idaho Statesman reports. Students are still expected to complete their school work, and many are logging on to Zoom calls from the fields.
- Child advocacy groups and the Child Agricultural Injury Survey believe about 500,000 students under 18 work in the agricultural industry, based on numbers collected prior to school closures.
- In agricultural jobs, youth can be exposed to pesticides, dangerous equipment and extreme temperatures, and most child work-related deaths happen in the agricultural industry. But educators are hesitant to point out their concerns, as the jobs may be necessary for families.
It’s not uncommon for Latino Idaho teens to work in the farms after school and during the summer. Many of the teens have a family connection to agriculture that can help them find work. Others are part of migrant families who move frequently for jobs.
This year, however, the teens started working in the fields earlier. Harold Nevill, an administrator for the Canyon-Owyhee School Service Agency, estimates 30% to 50% of the students at his school are working. Most work in agriculture, but others work as mechanics and in the healthcare industry.
In California, students between the ages of 14 and 17 are required to have a work permit and may not be employed during school hours.
With unemployment numbers now rivaling that of the Great Depression, most teens find it hard to land a job. Even before the pandemic struck in late 2019, only 35% of teens had jobs, down from 60% in 1979. Then, the reasons were that they didn’t have time due to rigorous school schedules. Now, there aren’t many jobs to be held.
Many undocumented workers deemed “essential” during the pandemic have been asked to remain at work even though schools are closed. Those who must leave young children at home during work hours are unable to “home school” their children, especially if there is a language barrier. California’s Department of Social Services issued a waiver allowing employers to set up emergency child care. In Los Angeles County, 36% of preschools and daycare centers had closed as of March 23.