The University will use students' cell phones and laptops connecting to Purdue Airlink 3.0, Purdue's internet network, to help find recent contacts of those who test positive for the coronavirus, trustees said during Friday's board meeting.
"The PAL 3.0 tracks — figures out — where you're at when you're logged on," trustee Malcolm DeKryger said.
This contradicts previous plans Purdue administrators outlined in a provost presentation earlier in July.
Cherise Hall, associate provost for finance and administration, said in a July 22 conversation with Provost Jay Akridge that the University wouldn't be tracking students' locations in the fall.
"We're not actually tracking faculty, staff and students’ actual location," she said. "The name of the individual (who) has tested positive will not be shared, nor will the kind of contact or location be shared.”
In the past, Purdue has accessed data on students' locations through PAL 3.0 access points scattered around campus.
“We know where each student is at any time — which is virtually all the time — their mobile devices are connected to our Wi-Fi network," Purdue President Mitch Daniels wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post in 2018. "When they enter their dorm, or dining court, or recreational facility, they swipe in, and a machine captures the time and place."
Dwight Snethen, director of communication for Information Technology at Purdue, said in an email Friday afternoon that ITaP has been busy preparing for the upcoming semester.
"I have nothing to add regarding the tracing," he said. Snethen also said ITaP has created a "Welcome Back channel" on the ITaP website with general information about the fall.
The required training about COVID-19, which was made available to all students earlier this week in Brightspace, lays out the policy the University will be using in the fall, spokesperson Tim Doty confirmed in en email Friday evening.
"When a person tests positive for COVID-19, the Protect Purdue Health Center will use exisiting campus data (e.g., dining, living, classroom, Wi-Fi use) to quickly determine high risk contacts," the course text reads.