Doctor calls Miami school’s vaccine policy ‘irresponsible’ and ‘frightening’

Miami school says it won’t employ teachers who are vaccinated against Covid

Centner Academy in Miami criticised for spreading misinformation as US works inoculate population

Maroosha Muzaffar
Wednesday 28 April 2021 09:36
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A private school in Miami has said it will not employ vaccinated teachers, arguing against all evidence that they pose health risks to children.

Centner Academy, which has campuses in the Design District and Edgewater, informed parents of its policy for teachers and staff on Monday by email.

In a video message, one of the school’s founders, Leila Centner, told employees that if they chose to get a shot, “they would have to stay away from students.”

In her message to the school staff and teachers, she claimed: “Reports have surfaced recently of non-vaccinated people being negatively impacted by interacting with people who have been vaccinated.”

She added: “Even among our own population, we have at least three women with menstrual cycles impacted after having spent time with a vaccinated person.” Both these claims have been discounted by the CDC.

Leila Centner and David Centner —Variety called them “Miami’s most generous philanthropic couple” — established the school in 2019. The school charges at least $30,000 per student, per year.  

In her message to teachers she said: “I have to draw a line in the sand today and tell you if you want to get it, this is not going to be the right school for you. Especially right now when we don’t know what’s going on. I don’t want our community to be a part of this experiment.”

Ms Centner has asked its employees to inform them if they have already been vaccinated, so they can keep them away from students.

She asked those who are planning on getting the shot before the school year is over to let the school know because “we cannot allow recently vaccinated people to be near our students until more information is known.” Ms Centner has also given them another option: to wait until the school year is over to get vaccinated.

The Centners’ decision to keep vaccinated teachers away from school will have massive consequences for many. Those teachers who will get vaccinated over the summer will not be allowed to return “until clinical trials on the vaccine are completed” and only “if a position is still available at school.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration and many other authorities have concluded that the Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective.

Teachers and parents have been left dumbfounded. Greg Tatar, a parent, told CBS4 News: “It’s baffling. Why would she not want her teachers to get vaccinated.” 

Democratic State Senator Jason Pizzo, who represents the district where the Centner Academy has two campuses, said: “It’s absolute lunacy and it goes against everything that’s well understood and well accepted in the scientific community.”

The Centners are reportedly big Republican donors. Ms Centner has previously shared refuted and baseless conspiracy theories about the Covid vaccine on her Facebook page.

Mr Pizzo said: “To go ahead and to basically threaten faculty and staff members that if they are vaccinated, or to make up some idea that there are some unnamed disease that’s transmitted that’s affecting people’s menstrual cycles and provoking and invoking miscarriages, is beyond bizarre.”

The United Teachers of Dade released a statement accusing the school of peddling propaganda and called it shameful that the school is punishing teachers who try to protect themselves and their families against the deadly virus. The Centner Academy teachers are not part of any union.

The Department of Education said it will investigate the school for violating any laws or policies on the orders of Mr Pizzo.

Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, when asked about Centner Academy and its policy of keeping vaccinated teachers away from the school, said: “Obviously, our objective is continuing to convey that it’s important to abide by public health guidelines, that they’re in place for a reason, that they are not done through a political prism.”

She added: “They’re done by medical experts, by health experts intended to keep children safe, keep parents safe, keep teachers safe, keep communities safe, which is why we recommend people abide by them.”

The New York Times reported that the school prominently advertises on its website support for “medical freedom from mandated vaccines.” In the recent past as well, it has invited several of prominent anti-vaccine activists to speak with the students.

Up to Sunday, at least 95 million people have been fully vaccinated in the US as per CDC records. And about 140 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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