SACRAMENTO (KPIX) — In a letter, California Assembly members Phil Ting and David Chiu, as well as state Senator Scott Wiener urged school districts in San Mateo and San Francisco counties to get kids back into the classroom and they say public health experts back them up.

“We believe based on what they told us – there is a roadmap for schools all over the state to really be opening,” said Assemblyman Ting in an interview via Zoom.

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The letter cited excessive screen time for young minds, as well as mental health issues that students are facing. It also spoke about how many public schools remain closed for in-person learning, while many private schools have re-opened.

“You’re seeing an even bigger gap between those who have the means to get a private education versus those going to public education,” says Ting.

It is a sentiment echoed by UCSF professor of medicine and infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong who calls re-opening schools a moral imperative.

“You have the haves and the have nots. I’m worried that’s going to lead to downstream effects that are really difficult to see unless we re-open schools,” says Dr. Chin-Hong.

He says data from European schools indicates it is safe to re-open with precautions.

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“We have the science and the science says kids under 12 are particularly protected in general from both getting and transmitting COVID as compared to those over 12 who are more likely to be like an adult,” says Chin-Hong.

He didn’t feel that way in March.

“If you had asked me early in the pandemic, I would’ve been very nervous for the obvious reasons. At that point, we didn’t know what the science was, but at this point more than 8 months into the pandemic, it’s very unlikely that kids both get and transmit COVID to others.”

In a statement, San Francisco Unified School District says they are assessing school sites for ventilation and working with unions.

“We have set a target date of Jan. 25, 2021 for the first wave of schools to open for in-person learning.”

Ting says students need to get off Zoom school and society at-large needs to work to make that happen.

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“What we’re seeing in other countries – schools are the priority. Other things are shut down so schools can open. I think we need to take a hard look at whether or not schools are a priority.”