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District Tightens Rule After Chiropractor Signs 500 Mask Exemptions

He signed more than 500 exemptions for students in Sarasota County
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2021 8:14 AM CDT
One Chiropractor Signed a Third of District's Mask Exemptions
Students sit in an Algebra class at Barbara Coleman Senior High School on the first day of school, in Miami Lakes, Fla.   (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)

(Newser) – Florida's Sarasota County School District tightened the rules on medical exemptions to a mask mandate after finding that around a third of exemption forms turned in district-wide had been signed by one chiropractor. An updated form issued this week said the forms can only be signed by medical doctors, osteopathic physicians, or advanced registered nurse practitioners, reports the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. On Monday, when the 90-day mandate took effect, there were dozens of parents lined up outside Dr. Dan Busch's practice in Venice, where forms were being given out for free, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Some parents said they were simply given a pre-signed form and nobody asked to see their children.

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"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,” Busch tells WFLA. Asked whether a chiropractor could effectively diagnose a reason for a mask exemption, he said: "Your dentist could do this, your psychiatrist could do this, your psychologist can do this. You were looking at things like respiratory distress, hypoxia, asthma, anxiety, depression—there are a lot of qualifying conditions.” His attorney, Bryan Kessler, says the policy change unfairly casts doubt on the credentials of chiropractors as medical professionals.

Superintendent Brennan Asplen said Tuesday that the policy was changed so the district can be consistent in its "consideration of whether medical reasons warrant individuals to be exempt from the policy and to prevent abuse." It's not clear whether the more than 500 students who submitted forms signed by Busch will remain exempt. (The state is punishing two districts for imposing mask mandates.)

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