Sarasota Co. updates mask exemption forms for school mask mandate, excluding some doctors

Coronavirus

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Sarasota County School Board has announced they will only be accepting medical exception forms from select medical personnel after some families lined up outside a chiropractor’s office in Venice for hours hoping to get medical exemption forms.

The School Board’s face mask policy mandates that students, employees, visitors, and vendors wear face masks unless they meet certain exceptions or qualify for legally required accommodations.

The mask mandate in Sarasota County schools went into effect on Monday and, while the district says compliance so far has been good, they are dealing with a few challenges vetting medical exemption forms. As the district works through the exemptions to make sure they’re valid and correct, some parents are voicing concerns over the local chiropractor, who confirms to 8 On Your Side he’s signed dozens of exemption forms in the past week.

8 On Your Side spoke with Dr. Dan Busch outside his attorney’s office to get his side.

“This is not a political thing. I am not an anti-mask person or an anti-vax person, but I am a pro-freedom, pro-choice person,” Dr. Busch said.

Parents hoping to receive an exception will have to use the updated medical exception form which is available on the district website for parents and employees.  

Jules Scholles said several students at her daughter’s Sarasota elementary school have already tested positive for COVID-19.

“If your pediatrician isn’t willing to write you an exemption then you have to take a step back and think, hmm, you know this is my trusted family doctor maybe i should listen to that person’s advice instead of a chiropractor who we’ve never met,” Scholles said.

Scholles is part of the newly formed “Stop the Spread SRQ” parents group that raised concerns about the many parents bringing their children to the Twin Palms Chiropractic Health Center in Venice.

“We really, really appreciated the media attention you were able to give us because we knew that this was wrong,” she said.

In a statement Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Brennan Asplen said the school district will accept such medical certification regarding whether an individual is exempt from the emergency face mask policy only from medical doctors, osteopathic physicians, or advanced registered nurse practitioners.

Dr. Busch’s attorney also released a statement to 8 On Your Side following the school board’s decision:

Dr. Busch is pleased that the school board conceded he was acting within the scope of his practice by amending the mask exemption form, but is concerned at the same time about the exclusion of some medical professionals who are otherwise qualified, including questioning what authority the school board has to unilaterally determine who is or who is not qualified to render medical diagnoses to grant a medical exemption to the mask mandate. He is interested to know whether the school board will adopt a policy to no longer accept school physicals from chiropractors? It seems that if the school board is taking the position that chiropractors are unqualified to sign the mask exemption forms, then it goes without saying they are likewise unqualified to determine whether a student is physically fit enough to participate in school athletics. Perhaps the school board can clarify its position on this in the future. 

Bryan Kessler, Dr. Busch’s attorney

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