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As part of return to campus, Purdue gives out specialty N95 face masks

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Purdue Senior Addy Miller hands out face masks Tuesday (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

As Purdue students return to campus this semester, the university has advised the purchase of higher quality N95 and KN95 face masks to better protect against the spread of COVID-19.

The advice was part of the Protect Purdue return to campus plan, and comes as the COVID testing positivity rates among the campus community sit at just under 20 percent - ten times higher than the fall semester.

On Tuesday, the school announced it would be distributing the upgraded masks at buildings across campus.

The school has advertised an 88% vaccination rate among its campus community, but those numbers do not include booster shots. A university spokesperson could not provide any numbers on what percent of Boilermakers were boosted.

Kirsten Petersen is a staff member in the Elliott Hall of Music box office. She said she’s glad higher quality masks are being recommended and provided - but the masks were quickly scooped up.

“I think it’s a smart thing to say but it’s a hard thing to back up with limited supplies,” she said. “It would be much easier if they were actually to have more available.”

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Students walk to class Tuesday on Purdue's campus (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

Addy Miller is a Purdue senior who handed out masks in the Purdue Memorial Union building, where she said she went through ten boxes in roughly twenty minutes.

“I really like that we’re trying to do everything we can to stay in person,” she said. “I think if everyone takes precaution and does what they are supposed to we have a good chance of staying in person.”

Spencer Hagaman is a Purdue senior who picked up a face mask from the Union booth. He said he appreciates the university’s guidance around masking.

“Even if you’re feeling like you’re not personally at risk, other people are,” he said. “Understanding it’s not always about you, it’s about the greater population.”

The masks will also be distributed Wednesday, and can also be purchased at the Lilly Hall of Life Sciences.