LAST Thursday was National Graduate Day, a day set aside to celebrate the successes of those graduating from university.

I lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament to congratulate those graduating from the University of Stirling, and others across Scotland, and to acknowledge their resilience in the face of what has been a particularly challenging year.

Students have had to complete their last bits of coursework and some have sat examinations remotely, while universities have done a great job providing them with support so that they could complete their studies.

This week it is school leavers' turn, as they receive their results on Tuesday.

Similarly, Covid–19 has severely disrupted their final academic year and I can appreciate just how hard it has been.

The coronavirus pandemic has deprived them of their last term of learning, socialising with school pals and the chance to prove their knowledge during their final exams.

I know this has been difficult for many pupils who have worked hard throughout their final year and I have spoken with many parents who have expressed their frustrations.

None of the decisions the Scottish Government have made regarding exams have been easy and they have been taken with school pupil, teacher and examiners' health as the over ridding priority.

We are all aware of just how dangerous the virus is, especially in an inside environment.

With the country making real progress in suppressing the virus, I believe this decision was justified, despite the difficulties it has entailed.

Skills Development Scotland's helpline will be open from 8am on Tuesday, with advisors ready to give advice on the future to pupils, parents and carers, no matter the results. Their number is 0808 100 8000.

These results and graduate days remind us that, despite coronavirus and lockdown, life does not stop.

For so long, many of us have had to put our lives on pause as we have collectively battled against the pandemic, but we know that we cannot stay in limbo indefinitely.

Thankfully, the progress we have made in cutting community transmission and the number of hospital admissions means that we can start to get back to a degree of normality.

In recent weeks we have seen our communities, society and economy start to carefully and gradually re-open.

This is an extremely welcome sign and testament to the dedication of all to the lockdown measures.

None of this has been easy and it has taken an incredible effort from all of us to get to this point. The solidarity and kindness we have shown to each other throughout the pandemic has been one of the few positives I have taken from this period.

But what is important at this time, perhaps more than at any other point, is that we continue to stick to the lockdown measures.

We see local spikes in cases occurring across Europe and it is our responsibility to keep our guards up and follow FACTS.

Not one of us wants to revert back to full lockdown. It's up to us all to ensure we keep making progress in eliminating Covid–19.