Year 9-10 students in Auckland and Waikato will be able to return to the classroom from November 17, while Years 1-8 will be able to return part-time from the same date.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said this will provide certainty ahead of the Christmas break and before the new school year starts.
"Public health advice supports a return to onsite learning.
"Measures to help minimise the risk of Covid-19 will include mask wearing from year 4 up in most cases, ventilating classrooms, limiting the number of students on site, and making sure groups of children distance from each other," he said.
"Each school and kura will decide what works best for their learners and their community. That might be by alternating days or half weeks — through year levels, or through whānau groupings.
"Full-time learning will continue on-site for students whose parents have needed it, for example to go to work."
Hipkins said overseas evidence had shown out-of-school activities created a greater risk of transmission than in-class learning.
"It is clear that the risk of reopening schools is outweighed by the benefits of kids re-engaging with their learning face-to-face in this context.
"With really strong vaccination rates, the balance of risk has shifted."
Hipkins announcement came just hours after National called for the immediate reopening of schools.
National's Judith Collins said children in areas of heightened alert levels had missed out on too much critical class time.
"The disengagement, loss of social connection and significant milestones now outweighs the risk of reopening schools," she said.
Year 11-13 students returned to schools in Auckland on October 26.
Timelines for national curriculum, assessment programmes
Hipkins also announced schools, kura, and early learning services would get more time to roll out the curriculum and assessment work programmes.
He described timelines for the New Zealand Curriculum refresh, Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories, Te Takanga o Te Wā and the NCEA Change Programme as being reset.
Consultation on the gazetting of Te Whāriki for early learning services was also being deferred.