California physician gave 85% of mask exemptions in 1 school district

Dozens of students in California are going maskless because of a medical exemption, with almost all of them coming from one physician, CBS 13 reported Aug. 14.

Parents and the school district in Roseville, Calif., are questioning why so many students are receiving exemptions from one physician, the CBS report said.

Michael Huang, MD, has given about 85 percent of the 50 medical exemptions given out in one school district. Dr. Huang's receptionist told CBS he is fully booked for the next three months.

Dr. Huang said he is giving the exemptions after a physical exam and that they're for legitimate reasons.

"The mask exemption letter, the one we do provide, each [and] every one of them is after careful clinical exam and given appropriately," he told CBS.

What qualifies for a mask exemption is not defined by the California Department of Health. On Aug. 13, the health department clarified the mask exemption should come from a physician and not a parent. The school district also told CBS there is no way to prove if an exemption is legitimate, so they have to accept the document and allow the children to go maskless.

"School administrators, teachers, they're not in a position to question medical diagnoses, but they are required to follow guidance, which requires masks in the classroom," said Michelle Eklund, chief communications officer with the Placer County Office of Education.

Lou Foreman, who has two children in the school district, said he sought out Dr. Huang for his children's breathing issues.

"My kids today are in school, they're not masked and they've been integrated into their classrooms," he said.

Christopher Lillis, MD, who has a child in the school district, is concerned that kids going maskless can affect immunocompromised children.

"I'm exasperated because I feel like it's such a small gesture to wear a mask to protect the health of someone who is less fortunate and more vulnerable than we may be," Dr. Lillis said.

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