FOR THE WEEK OF AUG. 12, 2019
Back-to-school sales feature new iPads, digital notebooks, locker shelves and protective backpacks
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Here's a sad sign of the times: Bullet-resistant backpacks are on display at Office Depot, Kmart, Office Max and other stores as students and parents shop for school supplies. The bags cost $100 to $200 and are lined with materials said to block shotgun and handgun fire, as well as knives. "It will increase your survival chances," says a company named ArmorMe. Suppliers also are developing "bulletproof binders" and other products for students to address concerns reinforced by recent mass shootings at an El Paso store and outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio. “I might return my daughter's backpack that she got on Amazon and look into getting one of these," Denver mom Amy Garrett tells a TV reporter. "There's no price you can put on life, especially your child's life.”
Back-to-school sales this month mainly feature more conventional items, including a new generation of more sophisticated iPads with a keyboard accessory for note-taking, calculations and research. The $330 basic models get a productivity boost soon from Apple’s first tablet software update, called iPadOS. A new 10.5-inch iPad Air with a keyboard case costs twice as much. Laptops still exist, of course, but the lighter and less costly iPads have outsold Mac computers since 2013. "This is how our students interact and acquire information," says Kirsten Turner, an administrator at the University of Kentucky, which provides an iPad for each freshman. Another alternative is the Samsung Chromebook Plus ($490), with a convertible screen and stylus for switching to tablet mode.
Novelty school supplies include a three-level storage shelf that slides into lockers to hold books, binders, folders, clothes, writing tools, snacks and more. It's $19.50 at Pottery Barn. Also available are reusable notebooks from Rocketbook that make it easy to send notes and other jottings to your email or preferred cloud service (Google Drive, Dropbox, Slack and Evernote). Users can add an icon to route notes to as many as seven destinations. They're $31 at Amazon.
Parent says: "It's a little bit terrifying that we even to consider these things [armored packs], but I think that’s the world we're living in." -- Luke Siekmeier, Denver father of four
Business writer tells parents: "On social media, an entire army of influencers is telling your child what they 'need' to have this year. That can make back-to-school shopping a real headache." – Kelsey Sheehy of NerdWallet, a shopping and personal finance news site
Presidential candidate says: "Parents shouldn't have to buy a bulletproof backpack for their child just to keep them safe at school. This shouldn't be normal." -- Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
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