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Undoubtedly, the outbreak of COVID-19 has brought a cloud of uncertainty to higher education institutions regarding the 2020-2021 academic year. While many colleges and universities have announced their plans to reopen campuses this fall, students need to prepare for the possibility of continued social distancing orders, which could once again force on-campus classes to transition to online learning

As a result, back-to-school shopping may look a bit different this year. Students will need to consider how to best prepare for the possibility of online learning, in addition to staying healthy while on campus. To help students prepare their shopping lists, we developed a checklist of items to bring with you this fall in addition to your traditional back-to-school items.

10 items for your back-to-school checklist

  1. Face coverings

The CDC recommends people wear cloth face coverings to “cover their nose and mouth in the community setting,” to protect the people around you in case you are infected but do not have symptoms.

  1. Multi-port USB charger

Spring 2020 taught us that classes can quickly be converted from in-person to online at the recommendation of governing bodies. Make sure you’re prepared for online learning by bringing a USB charger with multiple ports to keep your phone, tablet, laptop, etc. fully charged.

  1. Hand sanitizer

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Look for a brand that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. 

  1. Noise-cancelling headphones

Invest in a good pair of headphones to drown out your roommate’s music or online class lectures. If you find it hard to study while listening to music, try downloading white-noise tracks from Spotify.

  1. A noise-cancelling app

If you need to participle in a virtual class discussion, download a noise-cancelling app to reduce the background noise caused by your roommate, pets, air conditioner, etc.

  1. Disinfecting wipes

Use disinfecting wipes to easily sanitize surfaces, including your phone and computer. Own a MacBook or iPhone? According to Apple’s website, it is ok to use disinfectant on the exterior surfaces of Apple products as long as you “avoid getting moisture in any opening, and don’t submerge your Apple product in any cleaning agents.”

  1. Webcam

Your phone or computer may already have a webcam, but if you’re unsatisfied with the quality or looking to upgrade for virtual class sessions, consider adding an external web camera to the mix. 

  1. Blue light blocking glasses

Staring at digital screens like your computer, phone, tablet, and even TV may cause eye fatigue or other macular issues from the blue light emitted. Blue light blocking lenses are available for glasses of all types, from prescription to non-Rx.

  1. Electronic notepad and stylus

Using a digital notepad makes sharing your handwritten work on a math equation a breeze.

  1. Adjustable laptop stand

Whether you use your laptop from your bed, couch, or desk, investing in an adjustable laptop stand can help support your wrists and improve your posture while studying or working on an assignment. Look for a stand that can be raised upwards to turn your workstation into a standing desk. 

COVID-19 prevention measures

As a friendly reminder, be sure to follow these guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Educate yourself on how COVID-19 spreads

At the time of publication, there is no vaccine for COVID-19. The virus is spread through person-to-person contact. Respiratory droplets carry the virus from the infected person to others by way of sneezing, coughing, or talking. COVID-19 does not affect everyone the same way — in fact, some people infected with the virus have no symptoms at all.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit cdc.gov.

Stay at home if you are sick

This rule applies to classes, clubs on campus, and social gatherings. Now is not the time to overlook mild symptoms. Be sure to contact a healthcare provider with medical concerns.

Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces

Research suggests COVID-19 can live on surfaces for days at a time. Make it a habit to sanitize your door knobs, steering wheel, phone, keyboard, light switches, remote controls and other objects you regularly touch. 

Wash your hands often

Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after using the restroom, preparing food, after contact with animals or pets, and especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

Wondering how to find the perfect college for you? Check out Peterson’s college and grad school search tool at Petersons.com.