Imagine signing into a Zoom call to discover Prince William and Duchess Kate are some of the participants! That's what happened with the children and staff at Casteron Primary Academy in Burnley, England on April 8.
The school is located near Burnley General Hospital, which means many of the students have parents who are health care workers, doing everything they can to battle COVID-19. The school has stayed open during the coronavirus pandemic so it can be a hub of sorts for five other schools in the area.
Teachers across the UK are dedicating their time to keeping schools open for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge called teachers and school staff at Casterton Primary Academy to thank them for their hard work and dedication. pic.twitter.com/2h9N66O4EP
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 8, 2020
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge thought it was important to thank those working there for everything they're doing for the parents as they work to conquer the virus. They also heard from some of the students about the important work their moms and dads are doing.
Our children spoke to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge about their amazing key worker parents. We’ll share some of them with you here... pic.twitter.com/E3ES3UEXVR
— Casterton Primary Academy (@ShineCasterton) April 9, 2020
"Well done, honestly, to you and everyone who's in during this time," Kate said during the call. "It must be such a relief for all the parents, who are key workers, to know that the normality is there for the children – they've got the structure and they've got a safe place for them to be, so really, really well done to all of you."
The school has been working to keep the children occupied, especially with Easter just days away. The sweet youngsters showed off Easter Bunny ears they'd been making, and the parents of three were really impressed! The kids also showed the couple a felt collage they had made that read "Thank you NHS."
Yesterday, their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke to staff and pupils of @Place2Be partner school @ShineCasterton, and thanked teachers and school staff for their hard work and dedication.
Read more https://t.co/ft5YaHeBaypic.twitter.com/xN4M7K2ApM
— Place2Be (@Place2Be) April 9, 2020
The Cambridges also promised to visit all five of the schools once the pandemic has ended, with Kate telling the staff, "We are seriously impressed by all your hard work and volunteering."
Anita Ghidotti, the Chief Executive of the Pendle Education Trust, which looks after all five of the schools, said the children were delighted to see the Cambridges.
"They couldn't believe their eyes," she said, according to the Daily Mail. "They brought in lots of things to show them. Last week, we were still doing things like maths and other schoolwork. But this week we have been making a real effort to do some fun things. We have been trying to find the positive in all of this and actually, these children are really loving being here. They are making new friends or seeing kids they don't see very often."
It makes a lot of sense that William and Kate would make such a lovely surprise appearance during this time. After all, children's education and mental health is a priority for the Duchess of Cambridge, who is a patron of Place2Be, an organization that works to improve mental well being in schools. Casterton Primary Academy is one of Place2Be's partner schools. Earlier this year, she also helped helm the "5 questions on the under 5's" survey, which aimed to start a national conversation in the United Kingdom about improving children's well being from an early age.
This also isn't the first surprise appearance the Cambridges have made during the coronavirus pandemic. In late March, the two visited an NHS call centre to thank the staff and emergency workers who have been responding during the COVID-19 crisis.
"The last few weeks, and more recent days have been understandably concerning with the continuing spread of coronavirus. But it’s at times like this when we realise just how much the NHS represents the very best of our country and society." — The Duke of Cambridge #NHSthankyoupic.twitter.com/l1GWs8ggHH
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) March 20, 2020
The caring couple have also been phoning health care workers to give them "morale-boosting" calls. The duke and duchess called staff at Queen's Hospital in Burton-on-Trent, England and University Hospital Monklands in Airdrie, Scotland last week.
"We'd just like to say from the two of us how proud we are of all of you and how amazingly you are all doing under extreme circumstances," William said during one of the conversations. "I know all of you see this as your job and that you get on with it, but this is a different level and you are doing an incredible job.
"The whole country is proud of you, so thank you for everything you're doing and all the hours you are putting in."
The call came on April 1, which led some staff to think it was a joke, HELLO! UK reported. They were amazed when they discovered the Cambridges were actually speaking to them.
"It has been a tough time for all our staff," Donna Marie McGroarty, an infectious diseases charge nurse at University Hospital Monklands, said. "However, the support we have received from colleagues and the community has been overwhelming. The telephone call from The Duke and Duchess was totally unexpected and a real morale boost."
We're thrilled to see how the Cambridges have been supporting key health care workers during this difficult, uncertain and anxiety-filled time. As the Queen said in her TV broadcast about COVID-19 on April 5, we will get through this and do so together.
As of this writing, the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine says there have been more than 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 reported in 184 countries and regions. The United Kingdom has reported more than 61,000 cases. Nearly 90,000 people have died worldwide from the illness. Nearly 340,000 people have recovered from it.