A plan for NSW students to begin a staggered return to the classroom from October 25 has been cautiously welcomed by the public school teachers union.
Under the NSW government plan for schools, all students are due to return to school by November 8, and the HSC will be pushed back to November 9.
It follows a shift to online learning in July amid the state's COVID-19 outbreak.
However strict restrictions will be in place for schools, including banning large gatherings and mandating vaccinations and mask wearing for staff.
It will also be compulsory for high school students to wear a mask, while primary school students will for the first time be encouraged to do so.
"Minimal mixing, not having extra adults, no assemblies or large gatherings," Education Minister Sarah Mitchell told reporters.
NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said the return to school will be conditional on the NSW vaccination rate reaching 70 to 80 per cent of the population and fewer than 50 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.
But he cautiously welcomed the government's plan.
"It's not without its challenges ... but these are the health measures that are necessary to keep people safe," Mr Gavrielatos told AAP.
"The road map is something that we would aspire to ... ultimately we want students to return to face-to-face teaching and learning."
Kindergarten and year one students will return to the classroom on October 25, followed by years two, six and 11 the following week.
All students will be back at school by November 8, or week six of term four.
Year 12, who are already able to attend school up to two hours a day, will also be able to increase their time on campus from October 25.
Ms Mitchell warned remote learning may still be needed in some circumstances.
"If we do have high case numbers in certain LGAs and the health advice is that we need to revert to learning from home in those areas of course that's what we will do ... but what it does mean is there won't be a blanket approach," she said.
For students in NSW local government areas that come out of lockdown earlier, they will be able to return to the classroom immediately.
All people who work in a school setting will need to be vaccinated by November 8.
Mr Gavrielatos said it remains unclear whether teachers will face the sack if they refuse to be vaccinated.
"We will continue to encourage all teachers to be vaccinated consistent with the advice from their doctors, because we recognise that vaccinations are key to getting us out of this pandemic," he said.
"Clearly there are employment implications arising from the announcement today mandating vaccinations for teachers, that's a public health order."
When asked if teachers will lose their jobs if they refuse to be vaccinated, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said: "They are issues and challenges we will work through."
About 70 per cent of teachers are already partially vaccinated, while from September the Pfizer jab will be available for all 12 to 15 year olds.
The Universities Admissions Centre said it supported the changes to the HSC, reiterating its commitment that students will still receive an ATAR.
Australian Associated Press