COVID-19: Apr. 6, 2020: Thurston’s Pack & Store Will Begin This Week

Monday, April 6, 2020


Dear GW Residential Students:

Since it has been a week since you’ve heard from us, we wanted to provide updated information as we have made adjustments to enhance the packing and storing process since our initial messages on March 27 and 29.  Thank you for your continued patience, flexibility and understanding.
This email is being sent to you, the last residents of “old” Thurston Hall.

Yes, the university is moving forward with the renovation. Even in the wake of COVID-19, D.C.’s  Mayor allows for construction to continue as long as companies abide by certain rules. The renovation is set to begin the week of May 18 and since we are following social distancing guidelines, it will take us a bit longer to clear out and prepare the building. This is why we are working now to safely remove your belongings from Thurston.

We do realize that this is a long message. We urge you to read it carefully so that you understand what is in store for this week.  This message is also available to view on the Campus Living & Residential Education website.

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 in the last week 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.


JK Moving is the company we have contracted with for this effort and they are set to begin at Thurston this week. You will start hearing from them later today, Monday, and they will explain their next steps.

Before Tuesday at 11 am, we ask that you update your own phone number and your emergency contact information via Campus Living e-services at the link below. Updating your contact information will prevent delays from the company and us reaching you in a timely manner.

Once you hear from JK Moving via email, your communication and scheduling for the remainder of the packing process will occur directly with them. Once this process is complete and your belongings are secured back at the company, either GW or the company will follow-up with you about options for reuniting you with your belongings if you need them earlier than fall

Reminders about the scheduling and packing process:

  • JK Moving will reach out via email which will include a predetermined date and time between Wednesday, April  8 through Thursday, April 16. That email will also provide information on how to set up the video chat.
  • If your scheduled date and time work for you and you have no changes to the mobile phone that you want them to contact you, no additional action is needed until packing day.  If you have a schedule conflict with the predetermined date and time because of a class or you will be observing a religious holiday, please reply back ASAP to that email. JK moving will be using Tuesday to make adjustments to the schedule for requests made by 11 am on Tuesday.
  • Please remember that the company will only be available in Thurston during the dates noted above. It is important that you do your best to be available at your appointed time. Please do not reach out to JK Moving’s customer service support center. This is considered a private, contracted move and the way to receive assistance is from the on-site team managing this move. Their email to you later today will include information on how to reach them.
  • On your agreed upon packing day, you will be contacted by a representative from the moving team at your scheduled window of time via phone to coordinate the start of your video chat. Remember, the primary objective of this video chat is to ensure that items are packed and identified appropriately.
  • Occasionally, there are delays. Please be patient as they may call you slightly outside of their time window. If you did not receive a phone call at all on the day of your pre-determined packing, at 9 pm, please email [email protected]. Our team will collect your information and coordinate with the company on the status of your room.
  • During the room packing process, the moving company will speak to roommates individually.
  • We encourage roommates 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 a resident is 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 JK Moving

  • They are 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.

The Packing Process

If you have heard the chatter or received the previous email, this is the section that we think you are focused on the most. We want to thank your peers in the first three buildings. We learned a lot in the first couple of days of this process. We listened to their feedback and heard their questions. As such, we made adjustments to improve the process and be responsive to your needs.

Essential Items To Be Packed & Shipped Separately

We realize that there may be some essential items that you may need for your health and academic success. We have identified two categories of 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.
  2. Textbooks and academic materials that you need in order to successfully complete the rest of the academic year.

There will be no other exceptions. We know that is difficult and again not what you expected. We are trying to do the best we can under extraordinary circumstances to get our students the items that are absolutely necessary.
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.

The textbooks and other academic materials will be placed in a separate labeled box for GW Mail & Package Services to send to you; this cost will be deducted from your student account.  During the packing process, if you identify any rental textbooks that need to be returned to the campus store or library books that need to be returned to a GW library, those will be returned for you.

Shortly after your room is packed, you will receive an email from GW Mail & Package Services to confirm your shipping address and any rental textbooks or library books to be returned.

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

First, 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, and even shipping. We are not trying to create any more financial hardships, but we do want to be mindful of creating conditions that may bring harm to your belongings. Example: Your open container of cookies, rotting bananas and dirty dishes you left in the sink may invite ants and rodents into your box and many cleaning products are considered hazardous and cannot be kept in storage or shipped. 

Safe Items:

  • 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 or boxes of solid foods and boxed or bagged dry goods.
  • Opened spices are packable.
  • Personal care products include: liquid-based foundation, lotion, make-up, skincare products, shaving supplies, perfume/cologne, hairspray, hard hand soap.
  • Cleaning products: sponges, brushes, gloves.
  • Oversized personal property: bikes, 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.
  • Hoverboards: self-balancing scooters, battery-operated scooters, hands-free Segways.
  • Drones.
  • Portable/space heaters.

Not Safe Items:

  • Food: any opened food, including, all perishable goods
  • Drinks: any opened containers and all refrigerated drinks
  • Personal care products: mouthwash only. 
  • Cleaning Products:  items including but not limited to laundry detergent (pods okay), 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,
  • Dirty Dishes: including silverware, utensils, drinking glasses, serving bowls, etc.
  • Any other hazardous materials

We Heard You and We Have a Plan for Cleaning Products, Liquids and Plants!

We understand that these items are items, that especially in these times, should not be wasted.

For the remainder of this packing process, we are going to collect the following items and redistribute in the fall to common laundry rooms in that building:

  • All of the 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 per procedure when found.
  • Sealed, unopened bottles of mouthwash. Sorry, keeping opened bottles is not healthy.

**For you, residents of Thurston, these items above will be distributed to other residences halls across campus when we all return for fall semester.

The live plants that we collect from Thurston will be brought to another building on campus. When you return to campus please contact the Office of Sustainability and they will attempt to reunite you with your plant. Please note: as the university is on limited operations, we cannot guarantee the continued care and watering of your plant.

Again, we hope you understand that our purpose is to keep your items safe and not create the potential for damage through this process.  If you have a concern about a particular item of sentimental value or religious value to you, please email [email protected] with the subject line: Thurston - Special Item. Please describe your item. 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 JK Moving’s climate-controlled off-site facility where they will remain, at no cost to you, until the start of the fall semester when they will be returned to campus and placed in your room assignment for next year.

But, wait, I need my things sooner than fall because I am graduating, going on study abroad in the fall, moving off-campus or another reason.

Once we are through with the pack and store phase of this process for our campus, which should be by the first week of May, our intent is that you will have more options. Once the moving company is back at their storage facility and re-organized, you may have options including pick up from the storage company or you may ship direct to any location at your expense. Please note, based on the stay at home orders and conditions at the time, the storage company may have some extra instructions for you or you may have to wait a little longer.

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