Trendiest back-to-school shopping essentials for kids this year

School is in session — or it will be in a flash.

Teachers, parents and students alike eagerly anticipate the return of the face-to-face, in-person experience. That said, masks, social distancing and hand sanitizing (a new one comes in a crisp and aptly named “Sweater Weather” scent) are still in the classroom picture this year.

“It’s a bit like ‘Groundhog Day’ compared to a year ago,” says Lauren Fonseca, 36, a Garden City mom of three whose 6-year-daughter, Amelia, is a first grader at Homestead School. “Top priorities for me are safety and socializing — and socializing safely.”

The same holds for a Northport mom with two daughters in high school. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” she says. “I want this school year to be memorable — and for all the right reasons.”

Braced for in-person classrooms this year, people are planning to spend more than ever for educational supplies, according to a survey released in July by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

As you gear up with essentials, leave room for fun and style on your back-to-school shopping list.

“Comfort is still a standard trend,” says Tara-Mae McSparron, a buyer at Lester’s in Greenvale. But after spending 18 months in sweats, “people are ready to elevate their style — a little.”

What to put on your list? Here are back-to-school essentials that make the grade.

Bear Necessity

A cute and useful way to keep pencils, pens and markers, you name it, tucked in and tidy; $9.99, Yoobi Standing Silicone Panda Face Pencil Case, Kohl’s and kohls.com.

Face Masks

One face covering option from Long Island-based To Tie Dye for Clothing beams school spirit; $10.50 at totiedyeforclothing.com, another option $5 Cat and Jack two-pack (pictured) at Target or target.com.

Cool Carry-Alls

Whether students are toting textbooks or crayons, a backpack comes in handy — and if they’re bold and have star power, even better; $59.50 Large Gear-Up Pixel Neon Recycled Backpack at Pottery Barn Teen, pbteen.com; potterybarnteens. $74-$84 Colby Starburst Backpack & Lunch Box (pictured) at potterybarnkids.com.

Handy Toys

Fidgety hands? Compact bubble toppers that perch on pens and adorn bracelets might help. “My daughter has ADHD and suffers from social anxiety and this toy … helps her focus and keeps her engaged,” says Corey Glassberg, CEO of Ronkonkoma-based Top Trenz; $7 OMG Pop Fidgety Pen Topper, $7 OMG Pop Fidgety Bracelet at toptrenz.com.

Germ Limits

A hand sanitizer that stays in step with fall style? Win-win; $6.50 Sweater Weather spray at Bath & Body Works stores and bathandbodyworks.com.

Best Feet Forward

You want a firm footing, and a stylish, comfy one in the classroom, on the playground and beyond; $55 Mega-Craft vibrant slip-on sporty sneakers; $59 Hidden Star rose gold hightops (pictured) at Skechers and skechers.com.

Plan Ahead

Keeping organized is a goal for every student and some like doing it old-school — on paper. $14.99 “Stay On Track” planner helps breakdown the week by day, by project and by goals at Target or target.com.

Checkered Choices

Mad-about-plaid is a big fall trend and there are lots of ways to wear it. Skirt, $44, by Cheryl Kids, cardigan by Hayden LA; Skirts, $58, and sweater vest, $48, by Falling Love at Lester’s of Greenvale or shop.lesters.com.

Tee Time

Casual comfort is always in, and this skater tee’s message, EXPLORE, is what school is all about; $16 Jumping Beans at Kohl’s and kohls.com.

Flannel Fashion

It’s fuzzy math, but flannel (a big trend) + bleach dye (a big trend) = cozy tops perfect for autumn layering; $25 kids at To Tie Dye for Clothing totiedyeforclothing.com.

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