Families were lined up outside a chiropractor’s office in Venice, Florida, on Monday night, hoping to get medical exemption forms for their children in response to Sarasota County’s new school mask mandate, according to KTLA sister station WFLA.
The county’s school mask mandate 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 confirmed to the Tampa, Florida, TV station that he signed dozens of exemption forms in the past week.
One parent, Paulina Testerman, expressed disbelief when she heard claims that Twin Palms Chiropractic was offering up mask exemptions to anyone who wanted one. Her family went to check things out for themselves.
“We were in and out, came in, signed a clipboard and handed a sheet,” Testerman said. “Nobody asked to see our children. The forms were pre-signed, there was a stack behind the counter and they were just passed out.”
District officials say they’re aware of the situation and are concerned about the allegations they’re seeing online.
“We have got a fair amount of exemption forms from that practice,” Craig Maniglia with Sarasota County Schools said. “They are being looked into. They have been given to our attorneys.”
The Sarasota County School Board later announced they will only be accepting medical exception forms from select medical personnel.
WFLA spoke with the chiropractor, 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,” Busch said.
The chiropractor told the station his policy is to meet with the student and their legal guardian to see whether or not they qualify for an exemption.
“I will tell you I have not given exemptions to any parents that I have not met with,” Busch said.
When asked what kind of diagnosis chiropractors can make when it comes to a mask exemption, Busch replied that it could be done by any health care physician licensed in Florida.
“Your dentist could do this, your psychiatrist could do this, your psychologist can do this,” he explained. “You were looking at things like respiratory distress, hypoxia, asthma, anxiety, depression — there are a lot of qualifying conditions.”
Busch told television station WWSB, which is based in Sarasota, Florida, that he is not getting paid for the waivers.
More than 100 people lined up for the form on Monday, according to WWSB.