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Back-to-School: Coronavirus Edition

Back to School: Coronavirus Edition Pharmacy

August 6, 2020

Inside: Back-to-school shopping will look a little different this year thanks to COVID-19.

With some kids not returning to school and parents worried about the safety of the kids who do go back to the classroom, back-to-school shopping looks a lot different in 2020 than it did last year.

A new Deloitte survey found that parents expect to spend around the same amount of money they did last year, but they will be spending in different categories. They’ll be spending a lot less on clothing and a lot more on electronics and healthcare items than they have in previous years.

You can tailor your front end selection to make sure you have everything your patients actually need to tackle the school year during COVID-19.

Yearly Standards 

Whether kids are at home or in the classroom, they’ll still need all the usual back-to-school staples. Make sure you’re fully stocked on these educational necessities:


School at Home

With schools delaying opening and relying on virtual classes, many parents will be “homeschooling” for the first time. In order to keep their kids focused on school, your patients will be on the hunt for items that replicate the feel of the classroom at home.

These items will help you meet the new demand.

Lap desks

Lap desks allow kids to move around during the day, working on the couch, in bed, or even outside, which can help the school day go by more quickly. They also give parents who may be balancing homeschooling and a full-time job a little more flexibility.

Parents also might be looking for alternatives to lap desks like TV trays or clipboards, which you should consider adding to your front end as well.


Many kids will be trying to get schoolwork done while their siblings are doing studying of their own and parents are working from home. A decent pair of headphones will help kids block out the noise of the rest of the house.

Plus, they’ll be able to watch any educational videos or participate in Zoom classes without disturbing the rest of the household.

Dry erase board

Teachers use dry erase boards to work through difficult concepts in the classroom, and kids can do the same with a smaller dry erase board at home. They’re particularly useful for working through math problems and grammar assignments.

Stock a variety of different color markers so kids can keep things interesting. Even if they don’t have a dry erase board, they can use the markers to write on glass windows.


Stickers can be a fun way for parents to break up the monotony of working on schoolwork from home. When kids have finished an assignment, parents can reward them with a sticker.

Plus, kids have a fun time picking them out when they come into the pharmacy.

Organizational system

Parents will need a place to store all the new supplies they’ve purchased for schooling at home. Offer them some options to help keep important school supplies from feeling like clutter.

Rolling caddies can easily be moved from room to room, or you can offer woven baskets and glass jars that store lots of stuff while blending into the rest of the house.

Socially Distanced School

For students who are going back to school during the outbreak, parents will be looking for tools that will help them maintain social distance and good hygiene. Consider adding these items to your back to school section.

Plenty of masks

By now, most folks have a couple of face masks on hand for running errands, but parents sending their kids back to school will be looking to stock up. Many parents are looking to buy at least one mask for every day of the week for each child so they always have a fresh one on hand.

Since the masks are for kids, remember to stock up smaller sizes. Consider adding cloth options that have fun patterns on them so they can pick out their favorites and get excited to wear them while they are at school.

Hand sanitizer

Several months into the pandemic, we’ve all mastered our handwashing techniques, but once kids are back in the classroom, it could be more difficult for them to get to a sink to wash as frequently as they need to. Hand sanitizer will help them fill in the gaps and stay clean throughout the day.

In particular, parents will be on the lookout for smaller sizes of sanitizers with silicone carriers that easily attach to a jacket, backpack, or lunch bag. Bonus points if they come in fun colors or shapes so kids can choose the one they like best.

Infrared thermometer

“Don’t send your kids to school with a fever” has always been a rule, but it’s even more crucial during COVID. Responsible parents will check their children’s temperature every day before school, and that task can be made painless with an infrared thermometer.

For parents with more than one child heading to school, an infrared thermometer is faster and more hygienic than a traditional oral thermometer.

Easy-to-clean lunch box

Even though some schools are opening, many of them are suspending their cafeteria service to help kids stay socially distant. This means more parents will be packing their kids’ lunches every day.

Bento boxes may be a better option than a traditional lunch bag for toting around lunch during the pandemic. The plastic containers fit together nicely, eliminating the need for plastic bags, and they are easy to toss in the dishwasher every day to get rid of any potential germs.

UV sanitizing system

Parents worried about kids bringing germs home from school could benefit from a UV sanitizing system. For teenagers, there are devices that keep smartphones clean, and other high-touch items like backpacks, computers, or keys can be sanitized with UV wands or bags.

Remember to remind patients that UV sanitizers should only be used on objects, not skin, because UV radiation can cause irritation or even skin cancer.


An Independently Owned Organization Serving Independent Pharmacies 

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is a member-owned organization that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.

An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited (formerly VAWD) warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.

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