Elevator leaves students grounded

Teachers on upper floors moved to help those who can’t get to class


Christina Wang

The main building elevator has been out of order for weeks.

Vedant Desikamani, Staff Writer

Senior Spriha Pandey misses when she could attend class the normal way.
Pandey has a physical disability she does not want to disclose that prevents her from climbing the stairs. Usually, she could use the elevator in the main building to reach her three upstairs classrooms.
But the main building elevator has been out of order for a month, so she has been forced to attend class through Zoom in the library.
“I think it’s definitely easier to sit in the library, but at the same time, it’s kind of lonely, you know, there’s not a lot of interaction with other people,” Pandey said.
She said she misses being able to interact with her teachers and ask questions about assignments.
“I feel like I’m falling behind on a couple of my classes,” Pandey said.
Fortunately, the school introduced a new solution to this problem for Pandey and the handful of other Cal High students with disabilities who have been unable to get to their classes on the second and third floors because of the elevator not working.
In an email Principal Demetrius Ball sent last week to staff, some teachers with classrooms on the second and third floors were informed they would be teaching certain periods in available first-floor classrooms since the elevators will not be fixed for another week or so. The adjustment began on Tuesday.
This will allow students like Pandey and junior Vanny Mera, who has an invisible disability that requires them to use an elevator, to attend class in person instead of via Zoom in the library.
“We have a number of students that have missed significant class time over this period due to medical conditions that require the use of an elevator to get upstairs,” Ball wrote in the email. “We have to do something to make sure that our students have equitable access to their classes.”
Cal office manager Silvia Paniagua-Loney said the valve that lubricates the elevator’s motor was damaged from students overusing the elevator and needs to be replaced. The elevator has not been functioning properly for about a month.
“The elevators are for people with medical needs, and right now people are choosing to ride the elevator who just want to ride the elevator for fun,” assistant principal Jeffrey Osborn said. “With more people riding than needed medically, it is putting a strain on the entire elevator system.”
Pandey feels that the elevators should generally be reserved for people with disabilities or injuries to use.
“I don’t think the elevator is designed to have that many people on the elevator,” Pandey said. “It makes more sense for people with medical conditions who actually need to use the elevator to go on there.”
More students could be using the elevators because the school has opened the to everyone, not just students and staff with a key. This change came after the district office informed administrators to remove key access to the school’s four elevators so more students can use them.
There are also elevators in the science, world language, and fine arts buildings.
“All people with medical needs need to be able to ride the elevator,” Osborn said. “Since we had a limited number of keys, getting multiple keys was challenging. So having the push button made it even more accessible for all students who need to ride it.”
Osborn and Loney said there are a few challenges with completely moving the system to the push button and hope students do their part and take the stairs so the elevator is not overused.
“I think it’s nice to have it open for everybody because when I would use my key last year, I don’t look like I need the elevator,” Mera said. “People would give me looks and I didn’t really like that.”
Mera said since there is no use for a key anymore, this is less likely to happen.
Pandey feels the key system helped her to get to class because there would not be many people who occupied the elevator.
Osborn emphasized that students should use the elevator only if they have a medical need, not if they’re feeling lazy or tired. He often patrols the elevators to keep people who can use the stairs away.