Papa John’s International (PZZA) has announced that it will hire another 10,000 employees, adding to the 20,000 workers it already has hired during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new hires will take place over the next few months in response to the higher demand Papa John’s is seeing for pizza during the COVID-19 crisis.

Papa John’s has seen its sales soar as as consumers stay home during the pandemic. The pizza chain reported a 5.3% system-wide increase in North America for comparable sales, with comparable sales international increasing 2.3% for the first quarter.

Papa John’s said it expects a 26.9% increase in North America for comparable sales for the April fiscal period and a 1.4% increase internationally.

Employees at Papa John’s will also be able to take part in Papa John’s college tuition program – Dough & Degrees – which has added two new partners. Both Southern New Hampshire University and the University of Maryland Global Campus have joined the company, along with Purdue University Global, in offering reduced college tuition options.

A variety of undergraduate and graduate programs are available from the three universities with all coursework online. Some college options cost about $2,500 per semester for employees of Papa John’s with scholarships available for some workers.

“We want to make it quick and simple for team members to join Papa John’s and immediately begin earning an income. An added benefit is access to a long-term pathway toward sustained personal and professional growth,” Marvin Boakye, Papa John’s chief people and diversity officer, said in a statement.

“COVID-19 has changed how we live, work and learn. With this significant expansion to our first-of-its-kind college tuition program, our team members will have the opportunity to earn not only a paycheck, but also a college degree,” he added.

The news of growth comes as Papa John’s separates itself from its former CEO, John Schnatter, who was accused of using a racial slur in a meeting, which he claims was leaked in audio in May 2018. The incident marked the downward spiral of the Papa John’s frontman, whose wife then filed for divorce after 32 years and said the marriage was “irretrievably broken.”

Schnatter is suing the advertising firm Laundry Service and Papa John’s over the alleged racist incident.

Shares of Papa John's were trading at $92.91 as of 11:32 a.m. ET, up 14 cents or 0.13%

Papa John's
The Papa John's store in Westminster, Colorado, Aug. 1, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking