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The back-to-school season has officially returned in full swing. Although many institutions have decided to kick off the spring semester by allowing students to return to campus, numerous universities across the U.S. have opted to continue distance learning. 

With COVID cases rising again, virtual classes remain the safe and logical option, but shopping for them can be confusing. If you're not in person, do you need real notebooks and pens? Or is it easier to write your notes digitally, considering the classes themselves are online?

Even though these times are unprecedented, there's no reason to feel unprepared! No matter how much (or how little) you opt to buy for the new semester, here are five back-to-school virtual must-haves that will come in handy for your new online semester.

1. StayFocusd + Grammarly Extension

The StayFocusd and Grammarly browser extensions are free virtual tools that increase your productivity by limiting the amount of time you spend on distracting websites (Hi Netflix!) and foolproofing your papers with grammar and spelling suggestions.

2. Blue Light Blocking Glasses

Remote learning often requires you to be on your laptop or phone. Did you know that these digital screens emit a damaging blue light that can cause headaches, fatigue, and eye strain? The perfect fix for this is blue light blocking glasses, which contain protective layers on the lenses to shield your eyes from the screen's blue light.

3. Planner + Stickers

A mandatory must-have every year is a classic planner. Whether you decide on a digital or physical one is entirely up to you, but a planner's proactive properties are endless. Also, stickers. Because why would you want a boring planner when it can be so much fun? 

4. Charging Hub

Charging hubs are a staple of the new normal. With so many devices to keep up with for school, it can be easy to run out of battery at a moment's notice. To keep this from happening, invest in a charging hub that allows you to charge all your devices in one place!

5. Laptop Tray

A laptop tray is another must-have for distance learning, especially for those of you who like to attend class directly from your beds. This laptop tray is perfectly sized and easily portable and is even equipped with a mini drawer to place any excess chargers, headphones, or school supplies.

Which one of these will you include in your back-to-school shopping list?

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Daniela Gonzalez is a 21-year-old HerCampus Writer at Florida International University. She is currently double-majoring in Political Science and International Relations while acquiring certificates in Pre-Law and National Security. She enjoys writing about lifestyle, wellness, and politics. When she is not writing, she loves to travel, go out to eat, and spend time with her friends and family.
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