A Florida school district restricted its policy on medical exemptions to its mask policy after a local chiropractor reportedly signed hundreds of exemption slips for students.

The Sarasota County School Board approved a 90-day mask mandate for students, teachers, vendors, and others in August with few exemptions, including for medical reasons. The school board’s mandate has drawn fire from Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration as the Florida Department of Education has threatened to strip board members and other school officials of their salaries.

Local chiropractor Dr. Dan Busch reportedly signed medical exemption slips for hundreds of students attending the school. In reaction, the school board updated its masking policy on September 1 to “only accept medical exemption forms from licensed medical doctors, osteopathic physicians or advanced registered nurse practitioners,” CNN reports.

“Every evaluation that I performed was very specific and I performed them in my scope of practice,” Busch told WWSB last month. “I had to stay very specific to the diagnoses that were in my wheelhouse, there are plenty that weren’t.”

“I have not directly heard from the school district but I am more than happy to sit down with the school district,” Busch said when asked about the board’s plans to change its mask policy. “I’m not trying to do something that’s shady, irrefutable, unethical. I’ll sit down, I would be happy to come to them.”

The chiropractor said he did not grant every request for a mask exemption note, but he was struck by how many of the students’ parents were reacting to the school’s mask mandate.

“What was so touching is that how many people actually broke down crying because they felt so helpless, and it hit me to have that opportunity to allow the parents to have a choice,” he said.

The school told CNN that it had rejected hundreds of exemption forms signed by Busch. Asked by CNN about the medical exemptions he gave to students, Busch said, “this wasn’t about me. This is about parents’ freedom.”

The Sarasota County School Board is under fire from DeSantis for standing by its mandatory mask policy in violation of an order by the governor banning such mask mandates in schools. DeSantis’ order continues to work its way through the legal system as Sarasota defends its mask policy. On Wednesday, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida upheld a lower court’s ruling that DeSantis’ order is legal.

The court’s ruling came after the 1st District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee reversed the decision striking down DeSantis’ order. 

After the DeSantis administration filed an emergency motion asking an appeals court to reinstate a stay on his order to ban the mandates, the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee granted the stay Friday.

“1st District Court of Appeals just granted the State of Florida’s request to reinstate the stay — meaning, the rule requiring ALL Florida school districts to protect parents’ rights to make choices about masking kids is BACK in effect!” posted Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for Gov. DeSantis.

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