ROSEVILLE, Calif. (KTXL) — A Roseville doctor faces criticism from fellow health care workers after being accused of handing out fake mask exemptions to students in the Eureka Union School District.
A group of former colleagues and concerned parents allege Dr. Michael Huang, a private practitioner in Roseville, sold complete mask exemptions for students, including a waiver for the wearing of face shields normally reserved for students who cannot wear masks.
Dr. David Herbert, CEO of Sutter Independent Physicians, said he’d heard from concerned parents within the district complain about the number of students excused from wearing masks for health concerns unrelated to COVID-19.
To be excused from mask wearing, students need written approval from a physician.
“Concerns that there’s been a lot of mask exemptions written for students in the school,” Herbert said. “I, as a parent, are very concerned that our students, and their teachers and our families stay safe.”
Herbert said he fired Huang in late 2020.
“He was previously with Sutter Independent Physicians but no longer is, and I can’t go into the details of such a personnel change,” Herbert said.
Huang denied wrongdoing.
“This is all new to me,” Huang told FOX40. “We were not aware of or even known that there was any accusations about my practice.”
Huang said he is not writing false mask exemptions and that he’s doing work that all other physicians refuse to do.
“If I’m the only physician writing exemptions, that means all the other physicians in this state, in my area — in many other areas also in the state — basically gave up on their patients,” Huang said.
Huang said he was let go from Sutter Independent Physicians because of an inability to wear a mask throughout the workday because of his asthma.
“Sutter Independent Physicians felt strongly that because I can’t wear a mask all day at work, they were going to let me go,” Huang said.
But people who actually need a mask exemption are rare, said pediatrician Dr. Terrance Chang from UC Davis School of Medicine.
“There are probably rare instances where they can be exempt where they have extreme phobia, anxiety, psychiatric problems with wearing a mask,” Chang said.
A spokesperson for the Placer County Office of Education told FOX40 they are aware of the mask exemption forms used by parents so that their children don’t have to wear masks, and that they’re seeking additional guidance from the state health department. The district may possibly implement additional verification from students receiving a mask exemption.
It released a statement to FOX40 Friday.
… Guidance from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is clear – ‘Assessing for exemption due to a medical condition, mental health condition, disability that prevents wearing a mask, or hearing impairment is a medical determination and therefore must be made by a physician, nurse practitioner, or other licensed medical professional practicing under the license of a physician.’
Additionally, the CDPH Safe School for All Technical Assistance Team has clarified that ‘nothing in the guidance, as interpreted by the FAQs, restricts local school districts from implementing an additional verification or confirmation step when they receive student mask exemptions.’
School districts are currently seeking additional guidance from CDPH. Community concerns can be reported and filed through the Medical Board of California by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.Michelle Eklund, Chief Communications Officer for the Placer County Office of Education