Essential Workers

Why Are Essential Workers So Essential?

If you remember 2019; you probably remember the term “minimalism.” Fast forward to 2020, and one of our society’s keywords was “essential,” but what is essential?  This question has arisen quite often; as government leaders scramble to define the term in relation to policies that regulate non-essential travel, businesses, workers, etc. During the COVID-19 pandemic, minimalism became so much more than just a trend; it became a way of life. As millions of Americans struggled to conform to bans and restrictions on entertainment venues, recreation, salons, barber, hospitals, clinics, and other places that we deemed “essential.” As regulations continued to be enforced and businesses continued to close their doors, Americans gained a greater understanding of the term “essential,” while also learning to appreciate those who are essential to our daily lives. Here are five essential workers; who have had a phenomenal impact on our society during these past months.

Commercial Drivers – Logistics & Transportation

We’ve all seen these brave warriors trailing down the highway for hundreds of miles each day. At times, some of us have even gotten a little frustrated with these commercial compounds. However, has anyone ever stopped to think; what would our lives be like without the drivers behind those trucks? In 2020, a nationwide shortage of tissue, paper towels, produce, and other everyday essential goods caused many Americans to stockpile. This scarcity lasted for months into the pandemic, and we realized the true meaning of the word “essential.” This increased pressure to restock the shelves; imposed demanding and challenging work shifts on factory workers and commercial drivers. Nevertheless, these essential workers continued to labor; some of them even without pay.

Educators – Schools & Colleges

No matter the circumstance, proper education is essential to ensure the hope of the next generation. During the pandemic, our educational systems were challenged due to the debates over maintaining our health without compromising education. Many institutions converted to E-Learning. This instated a recently developed platform for millions across the nation, and it was an entirely new way of learning for some. Students and teachers found it difficult to access specific programs,  follow instructions through online applications, and pick up where they left off in the classroom. Nonetheless, our teachers continued to instruct; while also learning new systems themselves. Meanwhile, many parents became teachers, and their home became school.  

Farmers & Factory Workers – Agriculture & Production

Whether we’re teaching our kids at home or working from our living room or office, we were all making those essential trips to the grocery store. Meanwhile, our local farmers ensured that enough produce was grown to sustain a population of over three hundred million Americans. Likewise, our factory workers continued working overtime to meet demands; while following increased sanitation protocols and social distancing guidelines, all to ensure our communities’ health.

Law Enforcement & First Responders – Police Departments & Centers for Emergencies

While some were looking after our food supply, others ensured that not one moment of our safety was in jeopardy. Our deputies, sheriffs, troopers, and police chiefs: all those who uphold the law; continued to bravely report to duty every day. Although pledging to risk their lives for the communities, they faced more significant dangers, and they continued to contact several individuals, even potential carriers. All while our first responders never wavered to report to the scene of a crime or an accident. They continued to risk their health and safety for the safety of another individual.

Healthcare Workers & Caregivers – Hospitals, Assisted Living, and At-Home Care

From RNs, LPNs, CNAs, Doctors, Surgeons, Medical Assistants, and Personal Caregivers, they’ve all fought a long and hard battle against this virus. Health workers have worked extended hours in overcrowded hospitals, sheltering patients on the infirmary front lawn, performing necessary surgeries and procedures, coming in close proximity with several patients, caring for those infected with COVID-19, and ensuring the overall wellness of our communities. These individuals could not stay at home. Their jobs are comprised of their morals, convictions, and compassion for the human race. For so many, it was more than just a job. It was an obligation. They placed their lives on the line for our health.


We’ve lost a lot over this year; our leisure’s, jobs, family members, and our entire way of life as we know it. Yet, we’ve gained so much as a society, a nation, and a world. We’ve gained a sense of appreciation, of gratitude, of value, of vitality. We also gained a renewed sense of resiliency as a people. We saw it before as a world in 1918, when a third of the earth’s population became infected with the H1N1 virus. We’ve seen it as a nation; as we endured the tragedy of 9/11 or battled the raging waters of the Gulf during Hurricane Katrina. Likewise, we’ll see it again; as we continue to prove that we are stronger than any disaster, any storm, any bomb, and every affliction and virus. So continue driving, continue teaching, continue learning, continue growing, and continue caring for the ones that you love.

Angel N. Skinner
Contributor at The Commoner | + posts

Angel N. Skinner has 12 years of teaching experience and has taught at different community colleges in the state of Mississippi. She also taught ESL for Chinese students and achieved a Certified TESOL. I have a strong interest in education, research, and English. My hobbies are reading, writing, and singing.

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