COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – The 2020-2021 school year is starting next month. It won’t be like any Ohio has ever experienced – for students, parents and especially teachers.

As the COVID-19 outbreak has caused upheaval across the country, school administrators and staff are putting together plans to keep students educated while dealing with a pandemic. For teachers, it may be one of the most challenging years they have ever faced. The stress of dueling online and in-person classes, maintaining safety for themselves, their families and students; and the schooling for their own kids has made the upcoming school year like one Ohio hasn’t faced before.

“Teachers are very concerned,” Ohio Education Association President Scott DiMauro said. “We also represent bus drivers, secretaries, custodians a number of people who do important roles (in schools) and they are concerned with their own physical health. They are concerned, more than anything else, if themselves and their students will be safe if schools re-open.”

DiMauro said teachers, who already deal with a quick switch to remote learning last year, don’t find the process ideal but are now better prepared given how the end of last school year went.

“We asked our members how remote learning went when they had to transition in the middle of March,” DiMauro told “Most educators said it wasn’t ideal, but it was somewhat successful. This idea, that students lost three-months of learning, it’s just not true. There was a lot of progress made by students and a lot of it depended on partnerships between teachers and parents.”

The OEA hopes the state drops standardized testing this year, given the multiple challenges of in-classroom learning in the new environment and with many students. The state dropped it last year after the outbreak began.

DiMauro said he was encouraged by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s order for mandatory masks across the state. One issue the OEA said has been concerning is the different ranges of approaches some districts have taken considering the outbreak. He said teacher’s unions and districts have the most part worked well together but there have been some exceptions. DeWine’s order on Wednesday should alleviate some safety concerns.

“(We) welcome the governor’s order because it is a scientifically proven way to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19,” DiMauro said. “We urge all school districts to heed the order, not jus for staff but for students.”

For the latest guidelines on Ohio’s school re-openings, visit the Ohio Department of Health website.