COVID-19: Apr. 17, 2020: South and 1959 E Street - Requesting Your Help for Campus Consolidation

Friday, April 17, 2020


Dear GW Residential Students:

We are reaching out today to the residents of South Hall and 1959 E Street to request the assistance from the residents in these buildings with an emerging critical need that is requiring us to consolidate and move some of our remaining students and in-residence GW staff currently residing on campus to other campus buildings.

The urgency of this request is that the university is being asked by local officials to be more flexible with our room and building availability in the coming weeks should the District of Columbia and/or GW Hospital request more assistance from the university as our region responds to this national pandemic.

This is a new development as we continue with Phase 1 of our packing project as we work to address emerging critical needs and clear and empty rooms for potential future use. Our request for your assistance is not part of the future phases we have mentioned in previous communications. We are still making plans for those future phases.

The packing process for South Hall and 1959 E Streets will begin on Monday, April 20 and is estimated to conclude by Friday, May 1. 

As part of this process, you will receive a survey from GW. Your responses to the survey will help us and the moving company to be able to better assist you as we finalize your end-of-year move out of your residence hall room.  Please respond to this survey by Monday at 9 a.m.

To help you become more familiar and comfortable with what will be happening in the days to come, please read the information we are providing below. It is comprehensive and long. For ease, we also posted the information to this link:

Why Pack & Store?

We understand that this is not the process you envisioned when you left campus. For those who live close, we understand your desire to drive to campus to pack your belongings. Please do not come to campus, we want you to remain safe and healthy. For weeks, public health experts and government agencies have been suggesting recommendations to follow social distancing guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The situation has evolved even more rapidly with more local and state governments issuing stay at home orders banning non-essential travel. This includes DC, Maryland and Virginia. The steps we are taking to pack and store your belongings to keep both you and your items safe are in direct response to these guidelines and orders. The best way to provide for the health and safety of all is to limit the number of individuals coming and going from our campus so that we as a community can contribute to slowing the transmission of this virus. Additionally, as we are currently managing the movements of the moving company contracted for this effort, for safety and security reasons, we are not able to coordinate requests for additional people to enter our residence hall buildings at this time. We hope you understand, this means no exceptions.


Storage Squad is the company we have contracted with for this effort. They will begin on Monday, April 20 and continue through Friday, May 1. 

Information about the scheduling and packing process: 

  • Storage Squad will email students in several waves throughout the two week project. When they do email you, it will include a date and window of time  for them to meet with you via video chat so that you can 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: Storage Squad uses FaceTime and/or Google Duo. 
  • Please download the Google Duo app and be prepared for a Facetime call on your iPhone.
  • It is important that you do your best to be available at your appointed time. If you have a conflict because of an academic class, please reach out to the company ASAP and they will do their best to accommodate a schedule change because of a class. 
    • 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. 
  • Please do not reach out to the company’s customer service support center or online chatbots and support.  This project is considered a private, contracted move and the best way to receive assistance is from the on-site team managing this move. Calling the support center may lead to confusion and misinformation. The moving company will include information and a dedicated email on how to best reach them. 
  • During the room packing process, the moving company will speak to roommates individually. 
  • During the packing process you will be able to ask Storage Squad to set-up a separate box/es for immediate shipping home at your own expense (details below).
  • We encourage you and your roommate 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

  • Storage Squad 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 Maryland.
  • 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.  If you have any allergies to latex, please let us know on the survey so that the team can properly prepare.

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 in the first four buildings for their feedback. We learned a lot during the initial stages of this process. We listened and as such, we made adjustments to improve the process and be responsive to your needs.

Essential Items To Be Shipped Immediately At the University’s Expense

We realize that there may be some essential items that you may need that cannot wait until fall.  We have identified the following items that will be processed and shipped separately to you during the packing process:

1. Prescription medicine, eyeglasses/contacts, retainers, etc; identification documents such as a passport and financial items such as cash, credit cards and checkbooks.

The medical, identification and financial materials you identify during the live video chat will be packed and shipped to you at no cost to you by GW Mail & Package Services. Shortly after your room is packed, you will receive an email from GW Mail & Package Services to confirm your shipping address.

Other Items To Be Packed & Shipped At Student’s Expense

Storage Squad, during the video call, will provide you the option to have certain items shipped home right away at the student’s expense. Items that can be shipped include academic materials, textbooks, clothes, shoes, documents and other non-fragile and non-liquid items. You can pack as many boxes that 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.  Please note:  Fragile and/or liquid items are not able to be shipped because of the risk of damage. Storage Squad will use the address you have listed in the survey that will follow this email as your Storage Squad appointment approaches. International shipping is not available at this time.

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

These categories below are meant to be a guide, not an exhaustive list. 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. 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: 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 of Items that are safe or not safe to pack depending on if they are being shipped and/or picked-up at the facility right away or stored until the fall:

There are two categories of items where a student will have a choice to make regarding how and if you want these items to be packed.  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. Storage Squad 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.

We Heard Your Feedback and We Have 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 it 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 or religious value to you, please email [email protected] with the subject line: South or 1959 - Special Item.

In your email, please describe your item and why you would like us to separate it from your room before the movers 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?

Your belongings will be secured in Storage Squad’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 and placed in your room assignment for next year. 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.

However, 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. There are other options available so that you don’t have to wait until fall.

Once Storage Squad has completed the packing of 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 their facility or shipping / household moving options will also be available at your expense.

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]. A team member from the Campus Living and Residential Engagement will respond within 48 hours.

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