SHOPPING LIST: School supplies for remote learning during COVID-19 pandemic

Families are gearing up for an uncertain school year. Many districts have already announced full-time remote learning. And back to school spending could skyrocket to record levels as families try to accommodate the new normal, so Consumer Reports revealed the affordable technology that could get your child to the head of the online class without breaking the bank.

Erika Mac Master is still reeling from how school ended for her five kids.

"At home, I have only one computer. I'm thinking of buying 2 more or 3 for my girls," she said.

Eighty-eight percent of consumers said the coronavirus will affect their back to class shopping this year, with parents of school-aged children planning to spend an average of $789 and families of college students an average of $1,059.

The top item both groups will be buying is a laptop. But before you buy, check with your school since technology recommendations might be different this year.

"For most school-aged kids, a Chromebook is fine. Pretty much any Chromebook. That's because students are going to be using web apps and you don't need anything special to run these apps," said Nicholas De Leon, Consumer Reports Tech Editor.

Consumer Reports recommends the Google Pixelbook Go or a Lenovo Chromebook.

"College is a different story and often that's because it depends on what your child is studying. Often the college will recommend specs or programs or just give you a list of computers to choose from," said De Leon.

You may be given a discount if you buy it through the college.

Consumer Reports said it's hard to go wrong with a MacBook Air. Or if you prefer a Windows computer, the Lenovo Flex 15 is a good choice.

Also, make sure you add a pair of headphones with a built-in microphone to your school supply list.

"This is one of those situations where you don't need to spend extra money for audiophile sound quality," said De Leon.

Consumer Reports recommended the Monoprice headphones for under 50-bucks or for in-ear headphones, grab a pair of Panasonics.

But if now's not the right time to drop a lot of cash on a new computer, look into free software that can turn an outdated laptop into a Chromebook.
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