Throughout the Covid pandemic, Dr Michael McBride has stood as the voice of reason.
And no matter how much we would all love to see our children return to school, there are greater priorities right now.
While Education Minister Peter Weir is quite right in saying schools should be preparing to reopen as planned on March 8, it doesn't mean it is certain.
That's what's been wrong with decisions taken during the past year.
They have been sprung on people at the last moment, not least on teachers who were thrown into home schooling during the first period of lockdown last spring with no preparation.
We have seen the benefits of being prepared. Since January schools and teachers have become better at remote learning.
It always helps if you know what you're doing rather than thrashing blindly in the dark.
Public and professional confidence has been damaged by a catalogue of late decisions, errors and misjudgments.
From last summer's A-level fiasco, to the row over on-off, on-off transfer tests, hardly a week has gone by without a crisis - which many had predicted - suddenly appearing in the sights of the department,
The unions, the teachers, even the pupils themselves who have struggled throughout, have called out for support and guidance and feel they haven't been consulted or listened to.
We've been here before. Just before Christmas the determination was that schools would be kept open. There would be no early closing for the holidays and in January pupils would return to class. The first part of that was played out, the second fell apart. More confusion.
Health Minister Robin Swann has been at pains this week to stress that while things are improving in the community, we must remember the levels of infection are still at a much higher rate than they were last year.
Arlene Foster said the R number is "steadily below 1" and "probably between 0.75 and 0.85". That needs to continue. Cases need to fall further before the Executive takes a leap off the Covid tightrope and lets society drift back towards normality
The Executive faces crucial decisions again next week. It remains possible that a gradual process of reopening schools, with exam year students returning ahead of the pressure on teachers, who now have the responsibility of grading their work at A-level, AS and GCSE.
The safety net of vaccinations is still under construction, but it's vital to remember that at the very heart of the community are our schools. Every family has children or grandchildren who, of course, should be walking through those gates every weekday. And while it's still pushed that Covid doesn't affect children as much as the rest of the population, schools are hubs for gathering, places where parents meet at the gate, where teachers work without the PPE afforded to the NHS.
Until the groundwork is laid there's little point in starting the reconstruction. Now is the time for planning for the day that schools can reopen safely.
The wise man built his house upon the rocks. Return to the sand pit too soon and another opportunity might slip through our fingers.