Just about every week of the year is set aside to celebrate and honor some group or organization, most of which are largely ignored unless you are directly involved.

However this week features salutes to a pair of groups that clearly deserve special praise especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic which has dramatically impacted life for us in New Jersey and throughout the country. The impact that it has had of them both professionally and personally is even greater.

Today is National Teacher Day which is the highlight of Teacher Appreciation Week which runs through Friday and is designed to salute the nearly 4 million full-time public and private school teachers in the United States.

While many have heaped praise on those who shape the minds of children I think we can all agree that has taken on an even higher level during this crisis. With little time to prepare teachers have had to take on the awesome responsibility of virtual learning and while there have been plenty of bumps in the road it is not for lack of effort from them.

Many spend a large part of their day not only doing instruction but answering questions from often confused parents who have gained a new found respect for the men and women who teach their children.  You can’t bring an apple to the classroom this year but you can send a nice note thanking teachers for their efforts in the wake of unprecedented challenges.

Wednesday is set aside as National Nurses Day which is the start of National Nursing Week which was first observed in 1954.  There are more than 3 million working nurses in the U.S. which makes up the highest percentage of healthcare workers and it’s fair to say just about all of them have been dealing with unimaginable circumstances during the coronavirus crisis.

Talk about going “above and beyond” many do so just by showing up for work each day and risking their lives for those of total strangers.  The heroism they show on a daily basis is extraordinary and they continue to advocate for patients and are truly on the front line.

Nurses have the added burden of having to serve as the go-between for families who don’t have access to loved ones due to isolation.  Especially those working in hospitals have had to put in long hours away from their families and deal with the added concern of getting sick themselves and bringing that home.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who chose this profession to make a difference and have done so in the worst of times.

Teachers and nurses: we thank you!

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