Which School Supplies to Buy for Distance Learning

Consumer Reports looks at what supplies will help with virtual learning during the coronavirus pandemic

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San Diego's schools are getting ready to start back up, and most students will be staying home for now. Learning at home can be hard for both students and parents, but Consumer Reports has some ways you might be able to make it easier.

"I felt frustrated and sometimes like crying," said Erika Mac Master, who has five children now learning from home. "At home, I only have one computer. I'm thinking of buying two or three more for my girls."

A recent survey found that 88 percent of parents say the coronavirus pandemic has changed their back-to-school shopping. Computers are at the top of the list for students of all ages, but it's important to check with your school district because technology requirements may be different.

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

Consumer Reports recommends the Google Pixelbook Go or these Lenovo Chromebooks.

"College is a different story," said DeLeon. "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."

If you buy a computer using a college email address or through the college itself, sometimes you can also get a discount.

CR says it's hard to go wrong with a MacBook Air. If you are looking for a Windows computer, the Lenovo Flex 15 is a good choice.

Make sure you also have headphones, preferably with a built-in microphone, to help with attending virtual classes. CR recommends these Monoprice headphones, or these in-ear Panasonics.

If you have an old laptop, there's an easy way to get it back up and running for school. Using this software you can turn it into a Chromebook, which should be more than enough for most school-aged students.

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