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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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Go deeper

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Sep 15, 2021 - News

Where Des Moines metro schools stand on masks after Iowa ban blocked

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Des Moines metro schools are relying on guidance from their boards for how they should move forward after Iowa's law banning mask mandates in schools was blocked by a federal judge.

Driving the news: The judge's temporary restraining order issued Monday means schools can decide for themselves once again if they want to require students and staff to wear masks.

  • Gov. Kim Reynolds condemned the decision, saying it ignores parental choice.
Sep 16, 2021 - Axios Tampa Bay

Major Sarasota entertainment venues now require COVID vaccine or negative test

Jerry Lee Lewis in 2019 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota. Please don't give him COVID. Photo: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

As fall theater season kicks off, nine of the leading arts and cultural organizations in Sarasota County — including the Asolo Repertory Theater, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and Sarasota Orchestra — announced they will require proof of a COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test starting Sept. 26.

Yes, but: A Florida law enacted earlier this year bars businesses from requiring proof of vaccination and threatens a $5,000 fine for each violation.

DOJ sues American Airlines, JetBlue to block "unprecedented" alliance

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Tuesday sued American Airlines and JetBlue to block an "unprecedented series of agreements" that will consolidate the two airlines' operations in Boston and New York City.

Why it matters: The civil antitrust complaint alleges that the planned Northeast Alliance (NEA) "will cause hundreds of millions of dollars in harm to air passengers across the country through higher fares and reduced choice," the DOJ said in a release.