The 2022 school year will be challenging and likely filled with staff shortages and COVID cases, unions believe.
The NSW government has vowed to start term on January 28 despite growing Omicron cases.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet suggested that RATs will be distributed as part of the government's plan to reopen schools and keep them operational amid the outbreak.
Mr Perrottet acknowledged many parents across the state were anxious.
The Victorian government has been similarly determined school will resume as planned on January 28 for staff and January 31 for students.
Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said the union wants to see students and staff return to the classroom, but emphasised safety must be the number one priority.
"We haven't called for a delay [to term], but I think there needs to be range of contingency plans on the table," she said.
"We should ensure the Department of Education continues to monitor what is happening over the next couple week before schools starts, depending on where we are at [a delay] should be at least a possible option."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Ms Peace is concerned about the government's declaration that staff will not be required to isolate should they be deemed close contacts.
"Our view at moment is that it places staff and students and families at a higher level of risk and could in fact result in greater transmission of the virus within our school communities and create further problems with disruptions," she said.
Ms Peace's NSW Teachers Federation Branch counterpart, Angelo Gavrielatos, said the change to close contact isolation for teachers was 'irresponsible' and 'an act of desperation' that would increase risk at schools.
Both presidents believe the resumption of classes will be a challenging time for schools.
"The reality is there will be disruption, there will be absenteeism and we need to manage that as best as we can, but it will result in schools being non-operational if not entirely, certainly in part," he said.
Mr Gavrielatos said before school begins the government must examine the provision of masks, ventilation and the supply of rapid antigen tests.
Ms Peace is concerned the return to school is predicated on use of rapid antigen tests - which are in short supply.
It's likely both states will implement surveillance testing among staff and students.
National cabinet is expected to announce a national return to school plan on Thursday.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.