To understand the inequities of student education in this fall of pandemic, few places offer a starker lesson than the Orange County border that divides working-class Long Beach and the upscale suburb of Los Alamitos.

On a recent weekday, Mitchell Cruz, a junior at Los Alamitos High School, woke to the sound of his 7 a.m. alarm and picked out a school-approved outfit instead of the simple T-shirts he wore for learning in front of a laptop computer at home.

In-person school was back in session — even if it was a little weird.

The 17-year-old wouldn’t actually head to the campus until 11 a.m. to make it to classes that would stretch into the afternoon. The buzz of hallway chatter was muted, students largely kept their distance from one another. Hangout spots were still a thing of the not-so-distant — even if it felt that way — past.

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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