COVID-19: May 28, 2020: COVID-19 Update: JBKO & Strong Packing to Begin

Thursday, May 28, 2020


Dear GW Residential Students:

We are reaching out to let you know we will be packing Strong and JBKO Halls next week and we are still on schedule to begin on Tuesday, June 2 for both buildings. We anticipate that it will take a week for the packers to conduct the video chats, pack, load, drive to the warehouse then sort and organize in a manner that allows for a no-contact early pick-up should a student desire an early pick-up. The pack team hopes to be back at the warehouse by Wednesday, June 10 for Strong and Friday, June 12 for JBKO. 

As we kick-off these next two buildings we do want to provide context about why we are continuing the packing project as D.C. transitions this weekend from a Stay at Home Order to a Safer at Home Order. At yesterday’s press conference, the Mayor reinforced the order limiting gatherings to 10 people or less. Additionally, guidance has been given directing businesses to limit movement inside of all buildings.

As such, here on campus, as the District officially enters Phase 1, there is no significant change to the operating status the university has maintained since March. Designated on-site personnel are reporting to campus, and a majority of the employees are continuing to telework. Additionally, all residence halls remain closed and entry is limited to only those students approved to remain on campus because of extenuating circumstances and the university staff who live on campus.

The safety and health of our designated on-site personnel, as well as your safety and health continue to be our number one priority. For your awareness, the employees of the moving company as well as our designated on-site GW employees go through daily temperature checks. Additionally, as they move from building to building and floor to floor they follow health and safety guidelines for cleaning common areas to help slow and prevent the spread of viruses. As we coordinate their movements, we are not able to accommodate extra movement in the buildings as this may delay the packing project and our goal is to contact all of our students as quickly as possible and provide them with the reassurance that their belongings are either on the way or secure in storage until fall.

We understand your desire to come pack yourself and that you may offer that you will follow best practices. However, we hope that you understand that in the best interest for the health and safety of our entire campus community, and especially you and your families, we are not making any exceptions to allow students or families to enter the residence halls to pack. We are continuing with the professional packing services we have offered since the start of the stay at home orders.

For those wondering about the ability of a curbside pick-up on campus, we are not able to offer this as an option. If you would like to pick-up your belongings early, you have the option to pick-up directly from Interstate’s facility in Sterling VA. The company’s suburban facility with more space is more conducive to coordinating pick-ups while still adhering to social distancing and contact free pick-ups. Currently, our urban campus environment with city traffic patterns, increasing traffic and close proximity to several medical facilities, including a drive-through COVID testing site, make no-contact curbside deliveries difficult as we are not able to reserve curb space as we normally do during an end of the year move-out process.

We thank you for your patience and understanding in these last few weeks of the packing project. We realize that students are eager to start settling into a summer routine now that finals are over. Out of respect for all remaining students who need to be packed in these last few buildings, and in an effort to be as efficient as possible to connect with the remaining students as quickly as possible, we are not able to make special accommodations for packing or picking up from our campus. We realize this may not be the answer you were hoping for and may delay you another couple of days in reuniting with your belongings. Please understand that we are moving as quickly as we can while adhering to all safety guidelines as we care for your belongings.


Below we have included the information to help you understand the packing process. It is comprehensive and long. For ease, we also posted the information at

Interstate Moving & Storage is the company we have contracted for your building.

Following this email, look for an email from Interstate with information that includes the date and window of time they will contact you via video chat. The purpose of the video chat is for you to identify the items in your room that belong to you to be packed. That email will also provide information on how to set up the video chat. Note: Interstate uses Zoom video to chat. Please download the Zoom mobile app to your mobile phone or desktop device.

  • If you have not received an email to schedule your video call from Interstate by Friday, June 5, please email [email protected] so we can connect you with Interstate.  

It is important that you do your best to be available at your appointed time. If you have a conflict because of a final, please reach out to the company ASAP and they will do their best to accommodate a schedule change. 

  • Interstate will send a text message to the phone number on file the night before to remind you of your time window. 
  • The on-site movers sometimes run ahead or behind schedule, so it is feasible to receive a call outside of your scheduled window of time. 
  • If you do not receive a call by 9 pm on the night of your scheduled day, please email [email protected], so that we can connect with the on-site team and get you scheduled as soon as possible. 

During the packing process you will be able to request Interstate to set-up separate boxes for immediate shipping to your home at your own expense (details below). It is your responsibility to let the Interstate representative on the video with you if you would like to proceed with this extra service. 

During the room packing process, the Interstate representatives will speak to roommates individually.

We encourage you and your roommate(s) to communicate ahead of time to determine which individual will pack any shared items among their belongings. 

We ask you to please be timely in your responses with the moving company.

Please understand that if you are unresponsive to the outreach from the moving company or GW, including confirming by email and being able to chat by video or phone, the contents of a room will be packed with or without your consent. 


Update Your Information in Campus Living E-Services

About Storage Squad

  • Interstate is licensed and insured. 
  • GW’s contract with the company has provisions in place to cover any damages, in the unlikely event that occurs. 
  • Your belongings will be stored in a secure climate controlled environment at their offsite facilities in Virginia. 
  • They are professionally trained in the most up to date safety measures including how to properly handle storage of items in this period of COVID-19 response and are up to date on the professional certificates required by law to perform such services.  
  • They will delicately and carefully pack your belongings, using professional protective packing materials, then label the boxes, and prepare them for storage or shipping, as applicable. If you have any allergies to latex and forgot to let us know on the survey, please let us know by emailing [email protected].

The Packing Process

If you have heard the campus chatter about the packing process, this is the section that we think you are focused on the most. We want to thank your peers who we worked with on Phase 1 for their feedback. We learned a lot during the initial stage of this process. We listened and as such, we have made adjustments to improve the process and be responsive to your needs. 

Essential Items Can Be Shipped Home Right Away
We realize that there may be some essential items that you may need or want to use this summer.

Interstate, during the video call, will provide you the option to have certain items shipped home right away at your expense. Examples of items that can be shipped include prescription medicine, eyeglasses/contacts, retainers, identification documents such as a passport; financial items such as cash, credit cards and checkbooks; academic materials, textbooks, clothes, shoes, and other non-fragile and non-liquid items.

You can pack as many boxes as you would like to ship immediately. Keep in mind whatever you do not ship or are unable to because of shipping guidelines will be kept in storage, at the university’s expense, until the start of the fall semester.

The boxes are approximately 24x18x16 and have the capacity to hold up to 45 pounds. Shipping prices will vary based on the size, weight and delivery zone and could range from $25 - 75 per box. Large and extra-large items like a trunk, suitcase, duffle bag that do not fit into a box may range from $50 –$100 depending on size, weight and delivery zone. Interstate will use the address you list in their survey form that you will receive from Interstate a day or two before your appointment. Please note: Fragile and/or liquid items are not able to be shipped because of the risk of damage. Also, international shipping is not available at this time

You will also have the ability, should you choose, to pick-up all of your belongings from the Interstate facility once they return after the completion of your building. More information about this service will be provided via email at the completion of your building.

What is Safe to Pack and What is Not Safe & WHY!

As we move through this process, our goal and purpose is to protect your items and care for them in the most safe and secure way possible for packing, storage, pick-up or shipping. Our intent is not to create any more financial hardships, but we do want to be mindful of creating conditions that may bring additional harm to your belongings through either the storage or transit process. Example: Your open container of cookies, rotting bananas and dirty dishes left in the sink may invite ants and rodents into your box and many cleaning products are considered hazardous or have bacteria already growing and cannot be kept in storage or shipped.

Items that are safe to pack as they will not cause additional damage during the pack, ship and store process:

In addition to your personal items such as clothing, computer & gaming equipment, bedding and decorative items, the following items will be packed and stored  

  • Food: sealed cans.
    • Opened spices are packable as long as the bottle can be closed; a half open packet of taco seasoning is not packable. 
  • Personal care products: prescription and over the counter non-liquid-based medicine, eyeglasses, retainers, liquid based foundation, make-up and make-up accessories, hard hand soap, hairbrushes, razors (electric and disposable), blow dryers, curling irons.
  • Sealed and wrapped cleaning sponges and gloves.  
  • Oversized personal property: futons, chairs, etc.
  • Lights: all desk and floor lamps, including Halogen lamps. For safety, the bulbs may be separated from the light.
  • Cooking appliances: including hot plates, crock pots, waffle irons, toasters, toaster ovens, George Foreman grills, sandwich makers and popcorn poppers.
  • Artificial plants and decorative items, including candles as long as they can fit in a box.
  • Hoverboards: self-balancing scooters, battery-operated scooters, hands-free Segways.
  • Drones.
  • Portable/space heaters.

Items that cannot be packed, shipped or stored:

  • Food: any opened food, including, all perishable goods.
  • Food: no glass jars as they may break during packing or transit.
  • Drinks: any opened containers and all drinks in cans, bottles or glassware
  • Personal care products such as shampoos, conditioners, shaving products, that have been left in the shower and are mildewing.
    • In the early phases of this process, movers have been finding that some personal care products left in bathrooms are starting to mildew. If there are signs of any mildew, the movers/packers will suggest to you that these items be disposed of properly.  
  • Cleaning Products:  items including but not limited to laundry detergent, liquid soaps and toilet cleaners, bleach, windex, etc.
  • Flammable Items: incense and fragrance burners, matches, liquid lighter fluid, lanterns/oil lamps, butane and butane torch lighters.
  • Live holiday decorations including trees, garlands, popcorn strings, etc.
  • Aerosol Cans/Spray: chemical mace or pepper spray.
  • Used cleaning products: sponges, brushes, plungers, gloves, etc.
    • Many of these products may have bacteria, mold or mildew growing on it already or has the potential to create more damage when in a closed environment. It is best to dispose of these objects for health and safety reasons.  
  • Dirty Dishes: including silverware, utensils, drinking glasses, serving bowls, etc.
  • Any other hazardous materials

Categories that can be packed if shipped immediately and/or picked-up prior to fall.
There are two categories of items where it is the student’s choice on how to handle the items based on whether the items are going to be stored, shipped or picked-up immediately.  Please review the options below.
**During the packing process it is your responsibility to make the movers aware of your intentions: 

  • Food: boxed, paper wrapped or bagged dry goods, even if sealed. In dark places such as storage facilities or sealed storage boxes, boxed or bagged dry goods, such as pasta boxes, bagged cereal or your Oreo cookies, create an opportunity for rodents or bugs to chew through the packaging, leading to potential damage to other items in your box.
    • If you are shipping any boxes immediately, you may request that these types of items be packed within your boxes shipped to you as part of any items that you choose to ship.
    • If you will be picking up all of your belongings from the storage facility at the conclusion of the building’s packing, and will not be storing until fall, you may request that these items be boxed for early pick-up.
    • If you will be storing your boxes until the start of the next semester, we will attempt to donate any unopened food of this type. Anything that can’t be donated will be disposed of. As we continue to be mindful of health and safety measures during this pandemic, we may not be able to donate some items.
  • Personal care products, including opened or unopened items such as shampoos, conditioners, lotions, creams, shaving creams, perfumes and colognes or similar types of products that have the potential to leak during transit.
    • If you are shipping any boxes immediately, you may request that all of these types of personal care products be packed in a separate box away from your clothes and other belongings. Interstate will ask you as part of the shipping process to waive their liability for any damage occurred to this box during transit and shipping.
    • If you will be picking up all of your belongings from the storage facility at the conclusion of the building’s packing, you may request that all of your personal care type products be packed in a separate box as a way to protect from co-mingling with other items during packing.  Note: you can request non-perishable food and personal items be packed together in the same box if you waive the company’s liability for damage to that box.
    • If you will be storing your items until the start of the next semester, please see the instructions below for identifying a specialty type item.

Based on Feedback, We Developed a Plan for Cleaning Products, Liquids and Plants:
We heard feedback from students as we cleared the earlier buildings that they were disappointed that some of their items were not able to be saved because of the need to protect belongings from being damaged during the packing, storing and/or shipping process. We took this feedback into consideration and while some items are not safe to pack because they may cause further damage en route, we agree that these items below, especially in these times, should not be wasted and developed a plan.

We are going to collect the following items and redistribute in the fall to common laundry rooms in that building for students to utilize upon their return:

  • All liquid-based cleaning products, whether opened or not opened.
  • All canned and bottles of unopened, un-refrigerated non-alcoholic drinks. Sorry, alcohol will be disposed of when found.

If you have any live plants in your room, they will be brought to the lobby or common area of the building. In the fall, or when it is safe to return to campus, feel free to retrieve it. Please note: as the university is on limited operations, we cannot guarantee the continued care and watering of your plant and we are not responsible if it gets moved or picked-up by another person.

Again, we hope you understand that our focus is on doing our best to keep you and your belongings safe during the packing process and not create the potential for further damage through this process. 

Special Items Exemption:
If you have a concern about a particular personal care product that is not safe to pack, an item of sentimental value, a very breakable item or item of religious value to you, please email [email protected] with the subject line: Your Building Name & Room Number  - Special Item Request. 

In your email, please describe your item and why you would like us to separate it from your room before the packers come in to pack. We have a process in place whereby a member of the Campus Living and Residential Education team will go into your room before the moving company to retrieve and store on campus that item for you. Please understand we cannot accommodate all requests; the item really needs to be of particular sentimental value or other extenuating reasons.

To Be Honest, I have Items in My Room that I Should Not Have

We are prioritizing the safety and security of all involved, including how we pack your belongings and the protection of those individuals who will be packing your items. If you have any of the following from only these four categories that may pose a risk to this process, please complete the Reporting Prohibited Items Form at the link below to let our team know about the item and its location.

  1. Weapons, including pocket knives, knives in a sheath, spears, swords, souvenir weapons, firearms, ammunition, and BB, air, pellet or paintball guns, tasers, stun guns, expandable batons or impact weapons;
  2. 3D printers capable of producing any of the items listed in item #1;
  3. Fireworks;
  4. Illegal drugs and marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and/or drug manufacturing materials.

We are asking our students to voluntarily let us know about only these four categories.  If you recall, there is a larger prohibited items list that includes drones, hoverboards, flammable candles, alcohol, mace, etc. We are NOT asking for any reporting of these other items.  Some of these items like drones will be packed, the flammable items and alcohol will be disposed of properly, as per our regular process when a prohibited item is found.

Collecting information for these limited items will allow us to maintain the safety of personnel and everyone's property. When we receive disclosures, we will provide that information to the movers so they can manage safety through their expertise.  Students so far have been very forthcoming and often the disclosed items are not prohibited and/or can be packed. If the movers determine the item is not safe to pack, those items will be turned over to GWPD. We understand that some of you may be concerned about acknowledging such items. We value your help in maintaining a safe and secure environment so advance disclosure of such items will be an important mitigating factor, in the event that the movers do turn it over to GWPD. Failure to provide this information in advance may be considered an aggravating factor in the university's response and could also result in additional policy violations. Specific questions about response to prohibited and dangerous items may be directed to Student Rights and Responsibilities by contacting [email protected].

Reporting Prohibited Items Form

End of Year Close-Out Process

As we continue to focus on limiting any financial hardships through this process, we are waiving most damage billing and move-out charges.   

My Belongings Are Packed Now What?

We know that for some of you, you may need your belongings sooner than fall because you are graduating, moving off campus or another reason. As such, you have the option as noted above to immediately ship, at your expense, any or all of your boxes. If you chose to have any of your belongings directly shipped by Interstate as part of your packing process, Interstate will be shipping your items after they complete the packing process for the entire building. Any issues that may arise out of this shipping process should be handled directly with Interstate by contacting them at [email protected].

Another option is picking-up directly from the Interstate facility. Once Interstate has completed packing the entire building and they are back at their storage facility with all of the boxes and items, they will take a couple of days to sort and organize. Once they are ready, we (GW) will send you an email with additional instructions on how you can pre-schedule a time to pick up your items directly from Interstate’s facility. While Virginia, like D.C., is on stay-at-home orders, the company’s more remote suburban facility in Virginia is more conducive to coordinating on-site pick-ups using social distancing guidelines than on our urban campus environment with city traffic patterns and close proximity to several medical facilities, including a drive-through COVID testing site. 

Any of your belongings not shipped or picked up directly from the facility will be secured in Interstate’s climate controlled off-site facility where they will remain, at no cost to you, until the start of the fall semester when your belongings will be returned to campus.  After your room is packed, no additional action is needed on your part; you will receive more information as it gets closer to the fall semester.

I Still Have Questions

Our residence halls are closed. While we have a few designated essential personnel remaining on-site, they are not always in the office during the day as they attend to other duties and your calls may not be answered. 

The best way to reach us currently is by emailing  [email protected]. Please remember to include your residence hall name and room number in any correspondence so we can better assist you. A team member from Campus Living and Residential Education will respond within two business days. 

Again, thank you for your patience and understanding through this process. We are doing our best to keep you, your family and our community safe. We hope to see you on campus again soon -- when it is safe.

Seth Weinshel and Stewart Robinette
Campus Living & Residential Education