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Students on campus have begun their move out process. 

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

On-campus residents who left Penn for spring break are being urged not to return to school to retrieve their belongings, and students who remained on campus must move out of their dorms by March 17 at 8 p.m.

Penn Residential Services sent an email to on-campus residents on Thursday morning outlining new housing policies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Residential Services, Division of Public Safety, and the College Houses will secure the belongings of students living in the College Houses, Sansom Place, and University-recognized Greek houses who left campus for spring break. The University will contact students when they deem it is safe for students to retrieve their belongings, according to the email.

Residential Services wrote that there are no options to retrieve important items including laptops, course materials, and personal effects. If a student believes they have an emergency situation, they can email to attempt to retrieve their item.

Despite the University’s mandate that students not return to Penn to collect their belongings, students headed to campus on Thursday and Friday anyway to move out of their dorms.

Harrison College House — which was prepared with move-out carts in the lobby — did not have any preventative measures prohibiting students from returning to campus to retrieve their belongings. Several students were able to return to campus on Thursday and move out of Harrison despite not having stayed at Penn for spring break, without being questioned by security guards at all.

College sophomore Catherine Lewis, who returned to campus from Virginia to move out of Harrison today, said no one questioned her when she entered the building with two suitcases to move out.

“Even though [the University] might say not to return to campus to get your stuff, they’re not being aggressive about it,” Lewis said. 

Wharton sophomore Danielle Schweitzer returned to campus on Thursday to gather her belongings, despite not staying on campus during spring break. Schweitzer said it was easy to get back into Harrison College House to move-out, although she did not see any Residential Services staff members or available carts when she arrived. 

She said moving out was “pretty easy,” but added that some of her friends are worried they won’t be let in to collect their belongings.

Penn announced on Wednesday that spring break will be extended one week, followed by online classes beginning March 23 for the rest of the spring semester in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

For students who are still on campus, Residential Services staff will assist with move out by providing carts, assisting with check out, and answering questions.

Students who are unable to travel home for personal reasons or because they live in an area that is affected by travel restrictions may fill out an application to remain on campus. The application must be completed by 12 p.m. on March 13. Students will receive a response within 24 hours, the email read.

Once approved to remain on campus, students will be provided with additional information regarding how the College Houses will operate going forward. Security will remain in place and dining facilities will remain open on a more limited basis, according to Residential Services.

Residential Services wrote that the University will issue a partial refund or credit for future housing or dining plans for students living on campus and students on a meal plan. An application process will be announced later in the semester, Residential Services wrote.