Back-to-School Help for Students Without Internet

Elva Mankin

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

For Marcy Gage, getting decent broadband service for her home has been a 15-year battle. Because of her location in rural Maine, she’s had to rely on expensive-yet-spotty satellite internet because the local cable company stopped laying lines about 2,000 feet from her house.

According to Charter/Spectrum, the cost to run that extra length was $60,000, well above what Gage can afford to pay. And the special “pandemic” rate she’s now getting from her satellite company concludes in September. Instead of $26 a month, she’ll have to pay $75 for the same below-par service, or $200 a month to get rid of the data cap.

In the interim, she is working from home, sharing an internet connection that regularly tops out at 5 to 7 Mbps with her middle-school-age son, who’s about to start remote classes. “We can’t both

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Expert answers most-Googled questions about working parents and back-to-school

Elva Mankin

With the future unpredictable as kids return to the classroom during the coronavirus epidemic, parents are turning to Google to ask questions and attempt to plan.

As a part of TODAY’s coronavirus and the classroom series, NBC senior business correspondent Stephanie Ruhle answered the three most-Googled questions about the 2020-2021 school year, offering advice on everything from setting up a schedule that works to how to juggle work responsibilities while supervising online learning.

How are working parents doing this?

While Ruhle acknowledges working parents are stressed and struggling, she says it’s important to make a plan, but stay flexible.

“Put together a plan and an actual schedule,” said Ruhle, who likens the work and school routine to maternity leave; when baby sleeps, that’s when mom gets time to shower or nap herself. “When that school day starts, that’s when you can get the most out of your work day.”


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These Back-to-School Discounts & Freebies Will Take the Load Off (A Little) This Year

Elva Mankin

There’s a whole lot changing about education this year, but one thing remains the same: Parents spend a lot of money on our children at this time of year, so we need all the help from back-to-school discounts and freebies we can get. Some of us might be buying two sets of school supplies — one for home school and one for school school — and some of us have the pleasure of setting up our college-age kids’ classrooms in their bedrooms as schools opt for remote-learning for one more semester. Regardless of where they’ll be learning this fall, some of these discounts will make life just a tiny bit easier for you and your kids.

Luckily, there are a host of back-to-school discounts and deals available for parents and students alike. If you’re on the hunt for savings, here are all the back-to-school freebies families must know about.


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The Best Back-to-School Tech Your Kids Need This Semester

Elva Mankin

Photo credit: Staff
Photo credit: Staff

From Popular Mechanics

For many families, the prospect of going back to school is still up in the air. Even if schools do open up again, some of us are still opting to keep our kids at home. But just because it may be the safest option does not mean that it is the easiest. Whether your school district is going back in-person, virtually, or a combination of the two, your kid or teenager could probably use their own new tech, like a laptop or tablet, headphones, and more—not only to set them up for success, but also to make life a little easier on all the parents out there.

Check out the quick reviews below of the best tech for kids, or scroll deeper for full reviews of those models plus other high-ranking options.

How We Selected This Tech

We researched 10 expert sources, such as

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Masks are on superintendents’ back-to-school shopping lists. Some leaders wonder if there will be enough.

Elva Mankin

Shari Obrenski, a high school history teacher in Cleveland, usually spends about $500 each year on paper, pencils, markers and tissues for her classroom.

This year, her back-to-school list includes hand sanitizer, wipes and disinfectant spray — none of which Obrenski can find in stores. She hopes the Cleveland Metropolitan School District can get them.

“Reopening safely across the country is going to cost billions of dollars,” said Obrenski, who’s also the president of the Cleveland Teachers Union.

Cleveland schools will be online for the first quarter of the school year after a surge of COVID-19 cases in the area. 

As rising infections put the first day of school in limbo across the country, school districts are trying to make sure they’ll have enough cleaning supplies, masks and other protective equipment to bring students and staff back safely.

“There’s an expectation for school districts to kind of figure this all

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A back-to-school shopping season like no other has parents, retailers scrambling

Elva Mankin

MILWAUKEE – The back-to-school shopping season, second only to the holiday season in terms of consumer spending, has been thrown into uncertainty bordering on chaos as parents and retailers do their best to plan for what school will look like in the coming weeks.

Set against the backdrop of a highly contagious viral pandemic and the devastation it has woven across the U.S. economy, 2020’s back-to-school season is unlike any other.

“It’s the most challenging time in history for back to school,” said Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Resource Group, a consumer consulting firm in New York City.

The back-to-school season is “a critical catalyst that the country needs for an economic comeback whether it’s Wisconsin, the Great Lakes region or anywhere across America,” Flickinger added.

Whether back to school ultimately serves as a jump-start to a pandemic-ravaged economy remains to be seen.

Fall flavor: Dunkin’ bringing

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How to salvage special back-to-school moments amid a pandemic

Elva Mankin

If you thought one semester of remote learning was unbearable, get ready for round two.

As coronavirus cases continue to spike throughout the U.S., many schools and universities are taking the precaution of continuing virtual learning throughout the fall in order to ensure social distancing and limit the number of students on campus. The rules for each school vary as some schools are completely online, while others are adopting a hybrid model that consists of both in-person and online coursework. Some universities are allowing only first-year students to return, while others are eliminating on-campus housing completely for the fall.

High school and college seniors face losing their last school years to COVID-19, and 5-year-olds are missing the exciting first day of kindergarten. So with many students starting the school year from home, parents might be wondering: “How can I make it better for them?”

USA TODAY has consulted with two

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Covid Is Shaking Up Back-to-School Shopping

Elva Mankin

(Bloomberg Opinion) — School districts nationwide are beginning to announce their reopening plans for the coming academic year. The policies vary widely, with Atlanta and Los Angeles saying that school would be entirely online and, New York, the country’s largest district, opting for a mix of in-person and digital learning.

Of course, the primary tragedy of resorting to these non-traditional approaches to education amid Covid-19 is that it punishes students, who deserve a more immersive and social learning experience, and their parents, who badly need kids to be in school so they can get back to work.   

But the regional aspect of rules guiding school reopenings has another unfortunate side effect: It creates supply challenges for retailers as they try to drum up sales during the crucial back-to-school shopping season. 

Deloitte projects that $28.1 billion will be spent on back-to-school items this year, roughly flat compared to 2019.  The consultancy

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Top back-to-school gear: Tech Support

Elva Mankin

Welcome to Tech Support, a segment where I, Dan Howley, serve as your intrepid guide through the sometimes confusing, often frustrating, world of personal technology.

Here, I answer all of your most pressing questions about the various gizmos, gadgets, and services you use in your everyday life.

Have a question of your own? Reach me on Twitter at @danielhowley or email me at [email protected]

Now, on to your questions. This week’s dilemma:

‘What back-to-school tech does my kid need?’

We’re halfway through the summer, and that means the back-to-school season is in full swing. And with many schools expected to start the school year with remote learning as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, students are going to need new tech more than ever.

We’re talking laptops, Chromebooks, and routers to help get work done, and a few other gadgets for the inevitable down time.

Here’s the gear you’ll

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Back-to-School Essentials for Busy Parents

Elva Mankin

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

For parents, the COVID-19 pandemic has made back-to-school plans for their children particularly stressful this year.

Many school districts are combining in-class and online learning, which means kids’ schedules will be even more hectic than usual. Parents, then, will need everything from that critical morning coffee to a good night’s rest in order to survive. 

So Consumer Reports has come up with an array of back-to-school items that should help parents through the ordeal. These products  will also help keep the entire family fueled, fed, and healthy.

Cuisinart PerfecTemp 14 Cup Programmable DCC-3200

CR’s take: There’s nothing like a perfect cup of coffee to jump-start even the most jam-packed day. A traditional drip coffee maker, the Cuisinart PerfecTemp 14 Cup Programmable DCC-3200 makes plenty of java, thanks to its 14-cup glass carafe. It features programming, auto-shutoff, a cleaning indicator,

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