Sep 15, 2021 - COVID

Thousands turn out for Venice mask exemption event

Illustration of a mask with a red x being drawn over it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Several thousand parents of schoolchildren showed up at a rural wedding venue in Venice on Sunday to ask sympathetic doctors to medically clear their children from wearing masks in public schools, per the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

  • The event included a barbecue and a visit from Michael Flynn, former President Trump's first national security adviser.

The intrigue: Martin Hyde, who is running for Congress and helped promote the event, told the Herald-Tribune that both doctors at the event met the Sarasota County school board’s criteria to provide exemptions, and that they visited with each child for about three minutes.

  • Sarasota school spokesperson Craig Maniglia told Axios on Tuesday that the district HQ hadn’t received any questionable forms that needed further validation from individual schools this week, but that process can take a day or two.

Flashback: The district already modified its policy once, after a strip-mall chiropractor signed hundreds of forms.

The big picture: Mask opt-out forms are a hot item since Sarasota schools put a 90-day policy in place that requires students to wear masks unless exempted for a medical or psychological reason.

Ben’s thought bubble: It seems like charter schools, ungoverned by elected public boards, stand to gain significantly if thousands of conservative parents defect over the mask issue. Is that the bigger picture?


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