In normal years, the new freshman at Schreiner University would be introduced wholeheartedly by the entire campus at the Event Center, but 2020 has demonstrated that normalcy is still a long way off. 

On Wednesday, Schreiner University opened its classrooms for the first day of classes. The convocation ceremony to signify the beginning of the 2020-21 school year and welcome incoming freshmen  didn’t kick off in the Event Center, but in a ballroom with a handful of socially distanced faculty and students.  

The event was also livestreamed to students and faculty who were unable to attend the event. 

“In some ways, the delivery format we are using here models how we will be able to successfully navigate the challenges this semester presents in managing the realities in play due to the coronavirus and COVID-19,” Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Travis Frampton told the small audience. “Normally, we hold convocation in the Event Center, with the entire first year class on the floor and with the rest of the campus community surrounding them in the bleachers.”

Schreiner has been forthright in its efforts to try to create a bubble around the campus for its more than 1,300 students and staff, by limiting access, regular screenings and an attention to the importance of masks. Everywhere you look there are reminders on campus. There’s also plenty of hand sanitizer. 

That proved to be an important connection for the keynote speaker — Dr. Javier Campos, a Kerrville physician. 

Campos made it clear that a big part of coping and combatting the pandemic rests around caring for each other. 

“Helping your neighbor,” Campos said in prepared remarks. “During this pandemic crisis, caring for yourself and your fellow students and faculty can include use of face masks and proper hand hygiene. Social distancing is tough in school. But doing your part in keeping your distance in gatherings will save you from becoming ill. And if you are ill or not feeling well, seek medical attention to determine your risk. Your job is not just preventing you from getting a disease but the assistance of those who are ill.  It can be helping get food, medication, or just school assignments for those that are ill. Help your neighbors.”

The convocation was also a chance for the students to recognize each other, to identify those who will play a vital role in helping the university get through the pandemic, including residence assistants and other student leaders. 

“Our goal as leaders of the Student Government Association is to serve and promote the best interests of our university,” student government President Matthew Walton said. “We promote cooperation and partnership among all students, student organizations, and the university faculty, staff, and administration.”

Finally, Schreiner President Charlie McCormick also challenged students to collect a series of coins that will help mark their journey of achievement through their course of study at the university. He also placed emphasis on the most important reason why they had chosen Schreiner.  

“Together, we will live into the promise of our mission statement:  we will prepare you for meaningful work and purposeful lives in a changing global society,” McCormick said.

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