Primary school leaders are happy the Government has not yet set a firm date to reopen junior and middle schooling.
But the National Party says kids are suffering and need to get back in classrooms now.
Auckland Primary Principals' Association president Stephen Lethbridge said a lot of work still had to be done before schools in regions under level 3 Covid restrictions could safely reopen for teachers and especially students aged under 12, who cannot be vaccinated.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins today said officials are aiming to reopen primary schools for students in Years 1-8 by November 15.
However, that is just an "indicative" date and is subject to change based on "events closer to the time". No date has been set for Year 9 and 10 students, he said.
The primary school reopening plan will involve groups of students attending on different days to keep numbers smaller and make use of outdoor lessons.
Also being considered is whether early learning centres can extend the numbers of children attending from 10 to 20 on November 15.
Hipkins said he has instructed the Education Ministry to work with schools to make the plan happen.
APPA's Lethbridge said he is pleased Hipkins is being flexible about the reopening date.
"It would be a challenge to open up at the drop of a hat," he said.
"The health and safety of kids comes first above everything else. We need to make sure things are in place to make sure they are okay."
"We can still continue with our remote and offsite learning until that time."
Hipkins announced last week that Years 11, 12 and 13 students in Auckland and Waikato could return to school last Monday.
Younger students can also return to school if they have a parent who is an essential worker and there are no other childcare options.
However, that meant most of the students in Years 1-10 are still doing their schooling from home.
Lethbridge said that added to the challenges of getting these younger students back in school is the fact the date for teachers to have their first mandatory dose of the Pfizer Covid vaccine by is also November 15.
He said his association had well over 420 member schools in the Auckland region, stretching from Mercer in the south to Wellsford in the north.
"And you can imagine there is a lot of diverse opinion about whether we should be back or not," he said.
"From an association's perspective, if we can get back to being in school for our kids sometime before the end of the year, then we should explore every avenue open to do so."
National's education spokesman Paul Goldsmith, however, said middle and primary schools should open immediately.
"Sure there are risks going back to school in a Covid environment, but there are equally huge risks in not sending kids back to school in terms of losing engagement," he said.
"Most kids are well and truly over it in terms of trying to learn online.
"Bite the bullet and send them back to school."
He said it isn't good enough to "maybe start a process" towards opening up in two weeks for primary schools and have no date for Years 9 and 10: "Particularly Years 9 and 10, young adolescents who are becoming the collateral damage in this outbreak".
There will always be a reason to wait a little longer to send students back to school, Goldsmith.
No other country was waiting to have kids vaccinated before reopening schools, he said.
"Get the basic procedures in place, most teachers are vaccinated, wear masks if you need to - just do what you need to do to get them back," he said.
Education Minister Hipkins, meanwhile, said secondary schools would be "pretty full" if they brought back Year 9 and 10 students, but he would like to see them back at school this year if possible.
There was a lot of parental anxiety about returning students and he could reassure them the Government was considering things "thoroughly", he said.