5 Back to School Essentials for Our New Normal

Whether your kids are heading back to school in person or online, these are the must-haves.

By Katherine Riley Jul 16, 2020 1:05 PMTags
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Back to school shopping is a whole new ballgame this year. Whether your kids will be attending classes in person or online, there are some new must-haves for everyone's shopping lists this year.

From household and portable electronics for those learning virtually to health safety gear for the classroom and beyond, these are the top five essentials for the ever-evolving 2020 back to school season.

Best Back to School Sales 2020

1. Whole Home WiFi Mesh: When everyone in the family is streaming Zoom classes, Teams meetings and Google Hangouts all at once, you might be battling for wifi zones. A WiFi Mesh system consists of a main router that connects directly to your modem, and a series of satellite modules, or nodes, placed around your house for full WiFi coverage. They are all part of a single wireless network and share the same SSID and password. Below are the best three options, for various home sizes and needs:

Linksys Velop Wifi Mesh Router (2-Pack)

This 2-pack version of the Linksys Velop Wifi Mesh Router  is ideal for large, 3-5 bedroom multi-story homes (up to 4,000 square feet). It connects to your existing modem from any ISP, and features a simple setup through the easy-to-use Linksys App.

Our tester, whose household consists of two parents working from home—one of them a kindergarten teacher hosting virtual classes—a college student and a high school student, swears by this system: "It's been flawless. Easy setup using my phone. And no more arguments from the kids!"

Netgear Orbi Tri-band Whole Home Mesh WiFi System (2-Pack)

The Netgear Orbi Tri-band Whole Home Mesh WiFi System offers coverage of up to 5,000 square feet and is Alexa compatible. It features parental controls that allow you to pause device internet access, view site history usage and filter websites for free. You can also set online time limits, schedule device internet access and more for $4.99/month.

Amazon eero Mesh WiFi System (3-pack)

The Amazon eero Mesh WiFi system covers up to 5,000 sq. ft., and works with both Amazon Alexa and Apple HomeKit.

2. Laptop: Laptops have become as necessary as backpacks for students these days. Whether you want to go basic or top of the line, here are the best picks.

Apple MacBook Air (13-inch)

If your student is in high school or headed to college, you can't go wrong with a MacBook. This 2020 edition of the MacBook Air comes with the famous Retina display with True Tone technology, Backlit Magic Keyboard and Touch ID, 512GB SSD Storage and 8GB of memory. It also features up to 11 hours of battery life, which is handing whether your running from class to class or streaming classes all day.

Yoga Chromebook Laptop (15.6 inches)

The Yoga Chromebook is a 360˚ convertible 2-in-1, giving your student both a laptop and a tablet with 128GB of flash storage. It also features an additional 100 GB of cloud storage via Google Drive, 8GB of DDR4 memory for streamlined multi-tasking, and up to 10 hours of battery life.

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop (15.6 inches)

For a more basic option, look no further than the Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop. This Amazon bestseller features 4GB DDR4 Memory, full HD widescreen LED backlit IPS display, a backlit keyboard and up to 7.5 hours of battery life.

3. Headphones: Anyone who is streaming classes needs headphones with a microphone. Below are the best picks in a variety of headphone styles: earbuds, wireless headphones and wired headphones.

Apple AirPods With Wired Charging Case

An investment, the sleek and streamlined Apple AirPods are best for older students. These wireless earbuds turn on and connect automatically to your Apple devices and charge in the case. Also available in wireless charging option.

iJoy Rechargeable Wireless Bluetooth Headphones With Mic

Wireless headphones for $17? Yes! They also come in a variety of other colors for $20 and in rose gold for $24. At this price, you might want to snag a set for yourself.

Mpow CH6S Kids Headphones

Mpow CH6S Kids Headphones are designed for kids ages 2-16. Kid-friendly features include a volume limiter switch for safe listening levels; enlarged, softer, thickened ear cushions for comfort; pinch-free hinges keep your little one's fingers safe and a 3.5mm share audio port that allows multiple headphones to be connected to each other and share the same audio source. And they come in an array of kids' favorite colors.

4. Hand Sanitizer: You're gonna want at least one bottle in everyone's backpack, and one at everyone's home work station.

Poo-Pourri Hand Sanitizer

Yes, the toilet spray brand Poo-Pourri also makes hand sanitizer in its signature scents. We especially like the coconut lavender smell of this one.

Touchland Hand Sanitizer

Touchland's dermatologist tested formula is packed with good-for-you ingredients like hydrating Aloe Vera and a blend of essential oils to leave hands soft and healthy. Their unique Power Mist sprays come in a wide variety of scents like Watermelon, Citrus, Forest Berry, Lavender and Vanilla Cinnamon. You can also save money on bundles. Plus, how cool is their packaging?

Sanitizer.com Subscription 

Sanitizer.com is a hand sanitizer subscription service—no more hunting on empty shelves! Their World Health Organization-grade formula is simple and honest, quick-drying, non-sticky, vegan and multi-purpose to sanitize your hands and high-touch surfaces in seconds flat. Monthly subscriptions are available for single bottles or three-packs, and you can pause, change or cancel your subscription at anytime.

5. Face Masks: Another must-have if attending school in person. There are thousands of options out there, but these cute ones are some of our favorites.

Paper Cape Embroidered Bear Reusable Toddler & Kid Face Mask

We just had to share this embroidered bear face mask! We especially love the adjustable ear straps, designed to fit ages 2-10. Made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton. For every 1 mask sold, Paper Cape will match it and donate to the Homeless Prenatal Organization of San Francisco.

Capelli New York 3-Pack Kids' Contoured Face Masks

This set of three Capelli New York Kids' Contoured Face Masks also feature easy-to-adjust elastic ear loops made from comfortable cotton twill that's machine washable. And unicorns? Yes, please.

Star Wars Cloth Face Masks 4-Pack Set

This set is actually adult size, as reviewers have been noting that Disney's children's face masks seem to run small. So we're giving options based on your kids' face size. Or you know, if you want to "borrow" this adorable set for yourself. 

Make sure to check out the best back to college sales and these steals on school uniforms. Want the latest and greatest deals delivered directly to your inbox? Sign up for our Shop With E! Newsletter!