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Engaging the Community, One Mask at a Time

At 10 sites across campus for 10 weeks, Penn Nursing students made 400 weekly observations about mask usage, part of MASCUP, a nationwide initiative spearheaded by the CDC that includes 53 colleges and universities.

On a cold and windy April day, six Penn Nursing students stood in groups of two and three at the corner of 40th and Walnut streets. Under a gray folding table, several backpacks perched against an open cardboard box. Tallulah, junior Lily McDowell’s dog and unofficial mascot of the day’s events, stood at the ready, her leash attached to McDowell’s backpack.

“Free mask kit,” says Lauren Fisher, an accelerated bachelor’s student nurse graduating in December. “It’s a mask and hand sanitizer,” she explains, showing a passerby a clear plastic bag that also held educational materials.

The person walked by without a glance, but Fisher was undeterred, quickly trying again with someone else. Nearby Tallulah worked her magic; as people came close to pet her, McDowell handed out kits. All told, the students gave away 400 mask kits to pedestrians, drivers stopped at the light who beckoned through open windows, a public transit bus full of people. They ran out of their stock in less than an hour.

This is an excerpt from a longer article that originally appeared in Penn Today. It was written by Michele Berger, senior science news officer in University Communications.