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I had the privilege, yesterday, of visiting a couple of schools to check on COVID-19 readiness.

I was deeply touched by the commitment of the teachers at the schools – their resolve to make learning a possibility for their children, despite the very difficult circumstances.

I was met at the door of the schools by someone with a thermometer, sanitiser and a register. I was told, though, that no-one other than staff, SGB members and children may enter a school – rightly so. I explained I was there to assist if there were any problematic areas, and I was warmly welcomed. I did detect slightly high pitches in the voices of those I chatted to – they’re anxious, they’re really nervous.

Protective equipment had arrived, but not for the non-teaching staff – the gardeners, cleaners, secretary, etc. Why not? I was told that the Department of Education is aware of this, but, goodness, why hasn’t it happened?

Teachers had their children neatly spaced. They had tape on the floors in all the walkways, 2 metres apart, to remind everyone of distancing. They had seats set out for meal times, well distanced.

Most of all, they had determination.

I left the schools feeling completely humbled.

I have often said that teaching really is the most important profession, and deserves to be elevated to that status. Teachers deserve the highest level of respect and acknowledgement. Yesterday, I was reminded of just why.