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Penn Residential Services started the inventory process of all residential buildings through photographing spaces with belongings. 

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

In an effort to plan the retrieval process of students' belongings, Penn Residential Services is taking inventory of all residential buildings by entering and photographing dorm rooms that still have belongings in them. 

Penn Residential Services wrote in an email to the Penn community on Monday that authorized personnel from their team, which do not include residential advisors or graduate associates, wearing masks and gloves will take photographs of all rooms and common areas beginning Tuesday. Staff are instructed not to open drawers or closets, the email read.

Penn Business Services Director of Communication and External Relations Barbara Lea-Kruger wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that these room inventories follow the same process as routine inspections with the additional step of taking photos of all visible items in the space.

Lea-Kruger wrote that while the timeline for the retrieval process remains unknown, the University is working with public health officials to determine when it would be safe for students to retrieve belongings.

“We know that students want to know how and when they will get their items in their rooms, and the inventorying process contextualizes the scope of items that are currently in our residential buildings,” Lea-Kruger wrote.

The photographs will be stored in Penn Residential Services' housing database system and will not be used for any purposes other than review of inventory, according to the University-wide email.

Penn Residential Services urged students not to return to campus to collect belongings if they had left for spring break in an email sent to all on-campus residents on March 12. Residential Services wrote that there were no options for students to retrieve important items including laptops, course materials, and personal effects. 

Less than a dozen items deemed "truly essential," ranging from specialized medical equipment and documents needed for immigration or visa status, were retrieved and shipped to students, Lea-Kruger wrote.

Later that day, President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett announced in an email to the Penn community that all students who were already on campus were expected to move out of their on-campus residences by March 17 at 8 p.m., extending the move-out date by two days.

"Penn Residential Services, working with the Division of Public Safety, the College Houses, Greek and other University housing, will secure your belongings until it becomes safe for you to return to campus to retrieve them," the email read.

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