With the 2021 school year in session, many school districts are requiring staff and students to wear face coverings while on campus. Florida allows students with a medical condition to be exempt from this rule. Due to the exemption, Twin Palms Chiropractic, located in Venice, Florida, saw an influx of young patients. Some parents want their children to attend in-person classes but do not want them to wear masks. Sarasota County School District requires students to wear masks to attend classes on campus. Dr. Dan Busch, of Twin Palms Chiropractic, is offering to sign mask exemption forms. Busch states “I am not an anti-mask person or an anti-vax person, but I am a pro-freedom, pro-choice person.” Some parents fear masks interfere with the rights and freedoms of their children. With the exemption, parents will send their children to school for in-person instruction without a face covering.
Other parents fear Busch simply created a new revenue stream by undermining the intention of the mask mandate. Under the exemption, any Florida licensed healthcare physician can sign the form. Chiropractors, dentists, psychologists, or psychiatrists can certify the document. Patients who get an appointment see Busch at his Twin Palms office. During the visit, Busch evaluates them for any conditions that permit a mask exemption. If the child presents a condition he signs the required form. Busch states he did not sign the document if it was not medically justified. Before the start of the school year, he signed more than 500 forms. He was reimbursed for each office visit.
Sarasota County School District received multiple exemption certifications signed by Busch. As a result, the district reevaluated its requirements. Superintendent Dr. Brennan Asplen narrowed the specialties that can sign mask mandate exemptions. District rules state individuals must wear a face mask that covers both mouth and nose at all times while inside any facility, building, or bus owned by the school board. The rules apply to any student that does not have an exemption on file. First, Asplen sent a letter to parents communicating the changes. Updated forms require a medical doctor, osteopathic physician, or nurse practitioner’s signature. However, chiropractors can no longer sign the exemption document. The district no longer honors exemption forms received prior to the changes. Second, parents seeking an exemption for their children now require a new form. The district posted the new exemption forms to their website making them available to employees and parents. The school will only accept exemptions on the updated document. Busch announced he will not provide refunds to patients who received exemption forms that are no longer being honored. The district hopes the stricter changes will prevent what they view as an abuse of the policy.