A Miami private school is asking its teachers not to get the COVID-19 vaccine—and saying those who do must physically distance themselves from students.
In a letter to faculty and staff sent last week and obtained by The New York Times, school co-founder Leila Centner reportedly requests that teachers who have already been vaccinated inform the school so they can be physically distanced from students. Teachers should tell the school if they get vaccinated before the end of the school year “as we cannot allow recently vaccinated people to be near our students till more is known,” or wait until the school year is over to be vaccinated. Centner adds that teachers who receive the vaccine over the summer will not be allowed to return until clinical trials on the vaccines have finished.
In a separate letter, sent to Centner Academy parents on Monday, Centner cites a false claim that “tens of thousands of women all over the world have recently been reporting adverse reproductive issues” from being near people who have received the vaccine.
“It is our policy, to the extent possible, not to employ anyone who has taken the experimental COVID-19 injection until more is known,” Centner writes.
The Centner Academy, which serves pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students, prominently features a “Vaccine Policy” page on its website. The page says “we are proud that our happiness school does not mandate vaccines of any kind” and cites a number of dubious statistics claiming correlations between vaccinations and attention deficit disorder, asthma, and autism, among other issues. Centner, reached via text message, estimated that the school has “around 300” students as of the writing of this article. According to the Centner Academy website, the school charges up to $30,000 in yearly tuition.
The school played host to anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. last February, and early this month hosted a Zoom talk with pediatrician Dr. Lawrence Palevsky, who is often cited by anti-vaccine advocates. Leila Centner also appeared with 9/11 truther Jason Shurka in a YouTube video posted earlier this month, where the two decried mask-wearing for children. The video also features a school staff member who tells the camera that masks cause oxygen deprivation, another disproven claim.
Centner’s Instagram page is a swamp of disinformation. In one post, Centner seemingly claims that vaccines are part of a plot to decrease the world population. In a video interview she posted with Ohio osteopath Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, Tenpenny makes the debunked claim that the Pfizer and Moderna shots can change your DNA.
Asked about the letter sent to staff last week, Centner told The Daily Beast via text message that “the kid’s safety is my number one priority so I am simply being overly cautious.” She also claimed that “one of the side effects [of the vaccine] is death.”
“What should be news,” Centner said, “is schools forcing students and teachers to take an experimental drug with known side effects.”
According to The New York Times, Leila Centner and her husband, David Centner, a tech entrepreneur whose LinkedIn profile also describes him as a co-founder of the school, are prolific donors to both the Republican Party and the Trump re-election campaign.
Centner Academy’s website says the school plans to expand in 2022 by adding a high school program.
COVID-19 is still going strong in Florida, with the state reporting a positivity rate increase of 6.85 percent to 7.28 percent on Monday, with a total of 35,600 deaths.