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Books, computers and face masks! Safety top of mind for back-to-school shoppers

Last Updated Aug 19, 2020 at 5:23 pm EDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – It’s the back-to-school shopping season and a new survey shows where parents’ priorities are and what they’re willing to pay to keep their kids safe.

This year’s back-to-school shopping will look different as face masks become the new must-have fashion accessory with parents stocking up on safety supplies in addition to books and bags.

A survey from Finance Buzz in the US, shows one-third of back-to-school shoppers plan to spend less than last year.

While that could reflect some families falling on hard times, it also shows the changing landscape of education thanks to COVID-19.

(CREDIT: FinanceBuzz)

“That trickiness of trying to figure out what you have, what you need, and what’s different. Who’s going to provide what,” said Christina Tortorelli from Mount Royal University.

Many school boards are adopting a “no sharing” policy when it comes to school supplies, so you’ll need to pick up pencil crayons and pens because your kid may not be able to borrow them.

“If kids are at home, they probably need a lot of the same things but you may have some of those at home already,” said Tortorelli. “Maybe some of those things the school would have provided like notebooks, are things parents now have to buy.”

And then there’s the big one. At this point last year, no one would have had hand sanitizer and face masks on their radar but about three-quarters of parents surveyed said they’ll be packing both.

Technology, though, could be the budget-buster with laptops being a major purchase.

The survey showed parents are holding off to see how badly they’re needed, with one-third expecting to spend less in this category.

“What I saw directly in being an instructor at MRU online is that students and parents are struggling because they need the same technology and so one computer in the home is only spread so far,” said Tortorelli.

If COVID-19 has left your family strapped for cash, there are some simple ways to save. Reuse old supplies, get clarity from the school on what’s needed, don’t guess and buy something that will sit in a drawer and finally, buy in bulk.

Put together a group of families and split up the purchases which will save money and time.