Every year around the middle of August an email or note arrives instructing parents about what to purchase for the coming school year. The obligatory pencils and paper are almost always included, but this year the list looked a little different. With the 2020 school year upended by the pandemic and every state and county operating differently — some hybrid, some in-person, many families opting for home school — the range of necessary student school supplies changed overnight. But how much did that affect parents' pocketbooks? Here's what real parents spent on back to school this year.
Nearly two-thirds of the respondents said they spent money this year on at-home learning tools: think computers, headphones, and desks. Others were fortunate enough to have their school districts offer some resources; for instance, iPads. But that wasn’t the case everywhere, showcasing the wild divide in learning situations across the country this year. Some parents opted to take the money they'd typically spend on new school clothes and put it towards supplies since their kids will be learning from home (probably wearing some cozy sweats, if not outright pajamas), while others managed to not spend a penny at all thanks to stockpiled papers and notebooks from past years.