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The new school year looks a lot different for families all over the country. While some students are heading back to the classroom, others are settling into homeschooling. Either way, back-to-school supply lists are also shifting to include items that will help kids of all ages approach the school year safely.
Whether your kids are learning virtually or going away to college, now is a great time to pick up must-have essentials to prep for the fall semester.
The Shop TODAY team rounded up some of the best products to add to your back-to-school shopping list. From the back-to-school basics and home learning essentials to face masks and sanitizers, read more about our picks below.
Whether you're heading into the classroom or finding a way to organize your school essentials at home, a backpack is a must on any back-to-school shopping list. This bestseller from Vans has a retro-inspired design that's perfect for all ages. According to the brand, the chili pepper red is its most popular color!
The Germ Guardian Pluggable Air Purifier and Sanitizer is a great option for college students. This Amazon bestseller helps reduce odors while killing airborne mold and germs with a UV sanitizing light. It also has a compact design which is ideal for small spaces.
Target's exclusive kids' apparel and accessory line has a bunch of bento boxes and lunch boxes that you can mix and match for under $20. The bento box has a hard outer shell, dividers on the inside and a snap-on lid that stays secure to avoid unnecessary spills.
This affordable lunch box comes in multiple patterns from camo to unicorns for just $9.99. It features a carrying handle, an insulated interior and a buckle so you can easily attach it to a backpack.
The trendy Hydro Flask bottle is a great way to keep drinks cold all day long. It comes in a kid-friendly size, but it's made with the same double-wall vacuum insulation and stainless steel exterior as the bigger bottle.
While it's important to stock up on the essentials, you don't want to forget back to school style! These practical sandals from Birkenstock are made with a lightweight and comfortable material. They're a TODAY reader favorite and come in fun, colorful options. Plus, they're under $50, which is quite the deal for a versatile pair of shoes.
Face Masks and Sanitizers
Going back to school looks a lot different this year, and if your kid is going to the classroom, a face mask may be required. TODAY.com readers are fans of these reusable masks from Old Navy. You can get a five-pack for just $12.50, and each set comes with multiple colors that you can assign to each day of the week!
Speaking of TODAY.com reader-favorites, this celebrity-loved jewelry company makes stylish masks. This two-pack is crafted with breathable, cotton fabric and perfect for any style-conscious student. The brand tells us that they sold out of their first batch in just two days, and by the look of the designs, we can understand why.
If you're looking for extra protection, you can add a face shield to your list. This one can be personalized with a design and name to make safety more fun. It's super lightweight and made with durable plastic.
Not finding a mask that fits your style preference? You can create your own by adding your favorite photo, text or design to this one. It has a double-layer construction and over-the-ear elastic straps for a snug fit.
For those who want a disposable option, the Nano Air Mask is a perfect choice. It was shared by NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen a few weeks ago and is available in sizes for adults and kids.
This popular hand sanitizer was hard to come by — but it's finally in stock! In March, the brand sold out of the Power Mist Hand Sanitizer and racked up a waitlist of over 34,000 orders. The formula is dermatologist tested, comes in eight fragrances and won't dry out your hands.
Keep their hand sanitizer close by with these cute little carriers. This pack comes with eight colorful carriers and empty hand sanitizer bottles you can fill at home. They attach to a backpack, lunchbox or belt loop for easy access!
At-Home Learning Essentials
Upgrade your home classroom with the Create-A-Space Storage Center. This Amazon bestseller can sort pens, pencils, art supplies and more. We filled it with supplies from Ooly, which added a colorful pop to the collection.
Ooly has lots of creative school supplies that are perfect for the classroom or for use at home. This pack of shimmery gel pens is scented to make color time more fun.
Erin Condren makes unique planners that help keep you organized. This planning notepad is affordable and will help your student keep track of tests, assignments and after-school activities.
Another way to schedule those important deadlines and goals is with this larger pad, made for a desk.
You can personalize both with names and make one for everyone in the family!
You might have a proper classroom set-up at the dining room table, but having a portable work station could be a good option to change up the scenery. This lap desk is spacious enough for a laptop but easy to move from one place to the next. It also has a mouse pad slide-out, a USB light and features comfortable memory foam on the bottom.
Adding a few tech gadgets to your day can make life much easier. This dorm room essential is a charger with two USB ports to power your devices. It comes with a sleeve that acts as a clip to hold all your cords in a neat bundle.
This genius three-tipped cable allows you to power three devices using the same cord. It's great for small spaces and allows for charging and data connection.
Keep your phone, keys and classroom essentials clean with this UV sanitizer. It uses medical-grade sanitizing technology to zap away germs in a matter of seconds. Just place your contents inside, shut the lid and push a button to start the sanitizing.
Connect this ultra-lightweight keyboard to your tablet or mobile device to turn it into a laptop when you're on the go. At under 10 inches long, students can throw it in a backpack or keep it handy at home for remote learning. It's wrapped in a durable material that's spill-proof and crumb-proof too.
These fun headphones from Amazon are great for watching TV or attending a virtual class online. They're foldable, durable and comfortable — even for the smallest of ears. They also come with pre-printed stickers so the kids can decorate them from front to back!
For more stories like this, check out:
- 15 kid-friendly desks under $100 that are perfect for homeschooling
- Hello, middle school! Here are 23 school supplies every sixth-grader needs
- 15 kids' lunch boxes to make mealtime at home or in the classroom easier