Sarasota Co. mask exemption evaluation event draws large turnout

Coronavirus

SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) – Some parents were outraged when the school board leaders in Sarasota County voted to implement a 90-day mask mandate with only a medical opt-out. Enforcement started Aug. 30.

By Sept. 1, district officials tell 8 On Your Side they received about 1,700 exemption forms. However, about 650 were declined after closer review.

District officials say the majority of the declined forms were signed by Venice chiropractor Dr. Dan Busch.

Long lines surrounded Twin Palms Chiropractic late into the evening the day the mandate went into effect. The doctor worked late hours to evaluate and sign medical exemption forms for families all across Sarasota County free of charge.

The next day, district officials announced in an effort to ‘prevent abuse’, the school board would only accept medical exemption forms signed by medical doctors, osteopathic physicians, or advanced registered nurse practitioners. They would no longer accept forms from all licensed healthcare providers, including chiropractors. The change went into effect on the first of September.

“Dr. Busch is disappointed to learn that the Sarasota County School Board has chosen to reject every single medical exemption to the mask mandate signed by Twin Palms Chiropractic, despite those exemptions previously being accepted, and despite the school board continuing to accept exemptions from other licensed chiropractic physicians, dentists, and psychologists who are no longer able to grant exemptions under the new form,” Busch’s attorney sent 8 On Your Side in a September 2 email.

The chiropractor’s attorney also explained that Dr. Busch was focusing his efforts on facilitating an event on Sept. 11, whereby he would encourage local medical physicians, osteopathic physicians, and advanced registered nurse practitioners who are licensed in the State of Florida to attend and meet with and examine students for medical reasons that would warrant an exemption from the mask mandate.

A large-scale evaluation and signing event took place at an outdoor wedding venue in Venice this past weekend. Supporters of the event said thousands showed up throughout the course of the day.

“They opened the event with 1000 wristbands and by 12 o’clock, they were out,” said Alexis Spiegelman.

Spiegelman is the local chapter chair for Moms for Liberty, a group with the goal to ‘educate, empower and unify parents and citizens who are liberty-minded to take action in their local government’.

Spiegelman says the group volunteered their time at the weekend event to show their support.

“This is what happens when you try to infringe on people’s rights. It is only going to grow. This is a grassroots movement. It is communitywide and we are not going to stop until our rights are respected and our government is an order again,” said Spiegelman. “We are not anti-mask, we are not pro mask. We are neutral. We are pro-parents rights,” she said.

Stop the Spread SRQ, a group supporting the district’s mask mandate, expressed their concerns and frustrations surrounding the event with school leaders.

“As a parent who just wants my kid to have the right to go to school and be safe and be as protected as possible, I am getting very frustrated with the parents who think that their right to decide whether or not their child wears a mask is superior to my right to have my child go to a safe school and be as safe as possible while she is there,” said Jules Scholles.

Mother Angela Wynn was upset to learn medical professionals took part in the event.

“These people are MDs, they have been to years and years of school to become a doctor.. why are they are not following the science, why they are not following the guidelines is beyond me,” said Wynn. “It is extremely frustrating. Like I said, I am a mom of a nine-year-old, and I just want to keep my kids safe, that is literally it,” she explained.

District officials couldn’t provide us with the number of medical mask exemption forms submitted as of Monday, Sept. 13.

“All forms submitted to the district are being reviewed for compliance with the guidelines. Forms that comply will be approved. Parents who have submitted exemptions which are not in compliance will be contacted directly by the district,” explained a district spokesperson.

8 On Your Side reached out to Dr. Busch’s attorney for details surrounding the weekend event. We were told the chiropractor has ‘no comment’.

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