Deemed essential

Recently as the Sedgwick County "stay at home" order started I continued to go to work in a local Newton cabinet factory (I'm not naming names). As a response to the "stay at home" orders in Sedgwick my employer released an email from the general manager that we were deemed "essential."

Because cabinets are an important part of housing maintenance?

I almost laughed.

The leadership at my work then told us that it would only be either a federal "stay at home" order or a corporate decision if we were to shut down. Any employee that needed to travel from Sedgwick to work was given a printout of this email to show to law enforcement if any questions were asked regarding us not following the order.

Our company has a slogan "Zero Injury Culture" and I'm bewildered by how that slogan doesn't apply in this situation. With hundreds of employees and the given potential for personal harm from this virus every day seems to be putting us in harms way.

I am in no way saying my job is not important, I love my job, but I fail to see how cabinets are "essential" in a time like this and my fellow coworkers feel the same. The only thing that we feel is essential is our paychecks and the relief stimulus combined with unemployment should help to cover those needs.

Now with the statewide "stay at home" order the majority of the employees are in the position; do they argue with management on what "essential" means or risk contracting/spreading a virus that is rumored to already be in the factory (a rumor regarding the one confirmed Harvey County case).

Any company that isn't truly essential that chooses to remain open will risk the health of the community.

Depending on people to value safety when their paychecks are on the line is a recipe for a more lengthy battle against this virus and, it's sad to say, more deaths.

Do I follow my own common sense that tells me to stay at home, which may risk my future at my work or is there anything that the city council can do to take the decision out of the endangered employees’ hands?

— David Milligan, Newton

Child abuse awareness

The COVID-19 health crisis has negatively impacted many Kansans, and in turn has threatened the potential for creating great childhoods. Measures taken to decrease the spread of the virus have the unintended consequences of social isolation, loss of income and increased parenting stress, which are risk factors for child abuse and neglect to occur. Just as we work to protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19 symptoms, we must also take steps to support families and keep children safe.

We at Kansas Children’s Service League (KCSL), as the Kansas chapter for Prevent Child Abuse America, encourage you to take action. Since April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, it’s the perfect time to learn how you can help make great childhoods happen. Engage with parents in your community and offer support, bring awareness to resources like the free Parent Helpline 1-800-CHILDREN, or advocate for Family-Friendly Workplaces with policies like access to quality childcare, flexible work schedules, parenting supports and paid parental leave. Remember, we’re all in this together. Learn more at

— Vicky Roper, director, Prevent Child Abuse Kansas, Kansas Children’s Service League