Florida private school threatens jobs of teachers who seek COVID-19 vaccines

Leila Centner announced that a school she co-founded would “to the extent possible” not employ staff if they got COVID-19 vaccines.

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Science’s COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Many universities are moving to require students and faculty to receive COVID-19 vaccines before returning to campus next fall. But one private pre-K to 8th grade school in Florida has turned that on its head, the New York Times reports today. The school last week told its teachers and other staff they should avoid the “COVID-19 injection” because of the purported dangers that vaccinated people posed to students.

A co-founder of the Centner Academy in Miami, Leila Centner, informed its 50 teachers and 25 support staff that if they choose to be vaccinated against COVID-19, they will not be welcome back on campus in the fall. Those already vaccinated will need to be separated from children while at school, according to a letter she sent to the school’s staff that was obtained by the newspaper.

Science was alerted to a similar letter Centner sent earlier today to the parents of the academy’s 270 students. Centner, a former financial executive, started the school with her husband, technology entrepreneur and Republican donor David Centner. In the more recent letter, Leila Centner states:

“It is our policy, to the extent possible, not to employ anyone who has taken the experimental COVID-19 injection until further information is known…. It is in the best interests of the children to protect them from the unknown implications of being in close proximity for the entire day with a teacher who has very recently taken the COVID-19 injection.”

To explain this decision, which contradicts recommendations from public health agencies including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization, Centner writes: 

Tens of thousands of women all over the world have recently been reporting adverse reproductive issues simply from being in close proximity with those who have received any one of the COVID-19 injections, e.g., irregular menses, bleeding, miscarriages, post-menopausal hemorrhaging, and amenorrhea (complete loss of menstruation).

No one knows exactly what may be causing these irregularities, but it appears that those who have received the injections may be transmitting something from their bodies to those with whom they come in contact.”

Such discredited claims about COVID-19 vaccines have been circulating in certain corners of social media. “There is no evidence that individuals vaccinated for COVID-19 can transmit the vaccines to others or that vaccination of one person can have negative health effects on others,” the National Institutes of Health told Reuters recently. The FDA has determined that the COVID-19 vaccines now available in the U.S. are safe and effective.

There was anger and distress about the vaccine policy among some parents at the Academy, where tuition is $24,000. “It’s very important to shed some light on this,” one parent, who asked to remain anonymous, told Science. “She is purporting that vaccinated people somehow harm others.”

The Centner Academy hosted anti-vaccine activist Robert Kennedy Jr. for two talks at the school in January. NBC News also reported in March that David Centner was the executive producer of Kennedy’s latest anti-vaccine film.

When asked by Science to comment on her letters, Leila Centner responded with a statement provided by her publicist: “Our responses and actions have consistently been out of an abundance of caution and thoughtful decision-making when risks to our children are presented. This includes physical…risks.”

Another parent of a Centner Academy student found the school’s vaccine policy unfathomable, however. “I feel so sorry for the teachers having to navigate this. Can you imagine?”

source: sciencemag.org