The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

New tap cards ensure proper elevator usage

While tap cards may only exist at 22 Tappan now, they could eventually expand to the main building. Although the project is an expensive one, students and staff said it will be worthwhile.

Elevators are an important accessibility feature. They enable people who cannot climb steps to move from floor to floor. But, according to Assistant Head of School Hal Mason, students who are capable of using stairs have been using elevators for years. This unauthorized elevator use makes it harder for students with disabilities and injuries—who have been authorized to use elevators—to travel between floors.

As of Monday, Dec. 18, all elevators in 22 Tappan only operate with the use of a tap card during school hours. The new tap card system is intended to prevent those without elevator passes from using the elevator, making it easier for those who are permitted elevator passes to use them.

The tap cards function like Charlie Cards in the sense that they must be placed on or near a card reader inside the elevator cab for the elevator to move between floors. One can still enter an elevator without a card, but a card is required for the elevator to move. The tap card function is already built into staff IDs and will be built into select student IDs when they are issued later this year.

According to Mason, the elevator tap cards were part of the original design of 22 Tappan. The technology has been in place since the building opened in April, 2022. When the tap card technology was enabled, school administrators simply had to contact Brookline’s Building Department with a list of school IDs that should be granted access to the elevators.

Similar to traditional elevator passes, tap card elevator access is determined by the school nurses. Elevator access can be granted or revoked on an ongoing basis. Only a few students already have cards with access to the elevators, according to 22 Tappan school nurse April Armstrong. Armstrong said these students have already had cards for a number of months for an outdoor elevator.

“There’s a door to the elevator that’s down at the street level, sort of close to the train stop. That door has been locked for a while. There are a few [tap cards] that we had acquired from Mr. Mason at the beginning of the year for students that had mobility issues,” Armstrong said. “So there are a short number of those, but this is a newer process [for the indoor elevators].”

These already-issued entrance tap cards now work on the elevators inside; although, other students who rely on elevators and have not yet received cards still have to rely on staff members. Until student IDs are issued, nurses will continue to distribute paper elevator passes, which students must show to faculty, who can scan their faculty IDs to operate an elevator.

Senior Zoë Soroka uses a wheelchair and has not received an elevator card. Soroka said she’s not concerned that students may initially need to find a teacher to use the elevator and that she strongly supports the system.

“This is great because there is a huge problem with people who don’t need the elevator using it,” Soroka said. “This is also good because now if a student has an invisible disability or a reason to use the elevator and they need a tap card, they don’t need to worry about being questioned or harassed over using the elevator. I am hopeful that this system is added to the main building as well to stop the issue in its tracks.”

Mason said he’d like to see the system expanded to the main building but that it will not come cheap. It would cost nearly $100,000 to install the same tap card system in the 115 Greenough elevators which, unlike those in 22 Tappan, were originally constructed without card readers. However, Mason said the system could still be modified.

“We’re looking to do it a different way, which would be a tap on the outside; you tap to call the elevator. But, there are issues with that. It’s very complicated,” Mason said.

Armstrong said she felt frustrated toward students who used elevators without elevator passes, especially when the elevators were closed because of student behavior inside them.

“We’re trying to maintain access for people who rely on it,” Armstrong said. “It’s similar to handicapped parking spots. If there were no enforcement around people parking in handicapped parking spots without a placard, do we think there’d be many handicapped spaces open for people who needed them? I think [the new tap card system is] going to work in that way. We’ve always managed the elevator use; people were just able to use it more freely before.”

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