A US private school says it won’t employ vaccinated teachers and staff
- A Miami private school is asking its staff to avoid Covid-19 vaccines, citing unfounded claims.
- In a letter to faculty, the school's co-founder said vaccinated staff will be barred from contact with kids.
- Moving forward, Centner Academy's policy will be to not "employ" those who have gotten the shots.
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While a growing number of American employers are announcing that employees must get vaccinated before returning to in-person work, one US private school is doing the opposite.
Centner Academy, a private school of about 300 students with two campuses in Miami, sent faculty and staff a letter last week asking employees who have not yet been vaccinated to refrain from scheduling a shot and alerting those who have already been inoculated that they must "maintain physical distance from students."
In the letter chock-full of vaccine misinformation, one of the school's co-founders and CEO, Leila Centner, said she made the decision "with a very heavy heart," while claiming that "reports have surfaced recently of non-vaccinated people being negatively impacted by interacting with people who have been vaccinated."
Centner, who has regularly shared anti-vaccine posts on Facebook, according to The New York Times, said she hadn't previously prevented employees from choosing to take the vaccine because she believes "strongly in Health Freedom and 'my body, my choice.'" But "new information" that suggests vaccinated individuals may "inadvertently" impact the health of others, "compelled" her to take action, she said.
There is no scientific evidence that supports Centner's claim that vaccinated people can impact unvaccinated people by interacting with them.
The letter gave employees three options:
- Wait until the school year is over to get the vaccine - though Centner notes that employees who choose this option will not be able to return to their job until clinical trials on the vaccines are complete, and even then, will only be welcome back if a position is available at that time.
- Inform the school if they have plans to get the vaccine before the end of the school year "as we cannot allow recently vaccinated people to be near our students until more information is known."
- Let the school know if they've already received the vaccine and "maintain physical distance from the students."
The decision effectively ties faculty's employment to a decision to reject the shot, and Centner required all employees to provide their "confidential responses" in a Google form survey.
In a separate letter sent to parents and obtained by investigative reporter Jim DeFede, Centner said the school's new policy, to the extent possible, will be to not "employ anyone who has taken the experimental Covid-19 injection until further information is known.
BREAKING: A private school in Miami - The Centner Academy - which has about 300 students, is telling their staff and teachers not to get the COVID vaccine and that it will be their policy "not to employ anyone who has taken the experimental COVID-19 injection..." @CBSMiami pic.twitter.com/hX0sVaQRdO— Jim DeFede (@DeFede) April 26, 2021
Dana Rhoden, a representative for the academy emailed a statement to Insider that lists unfounded vaccine concerns "supported" by only anecdotal evidence and links to unofficial websites claiming to track negative vaccine responses.
"The health and safety of our students has, and remains, our #1 priority at Centner Academy," the statement said.
The school said it can re-evaluate its policy "once more is known about the drug, if and when it passes FDA approval."
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency use authorization for the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
"We know not everyone agrees on this topic, but this is our philosophy at Centner Academy, one in which many of our teachers and parents share," the statement read.
Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease specialist at Florida International University's College of Medicine, told The Miami Herald she was "aghast" at the claims in Centner's letter. She told the outlet she was worried parents might wrongfully assume Centner's statements were supported by science.
In one case, Centner's cites a widely discredited report claiming that use of the vaccines has led to a 366% increase in miscarriages among pregnant women. Experts say that the data Centner is citing is being used out of context.
"It gives the illusion that she's basing it on facts," Marty told The Herald of the letter. "Rumor is the only thing that's there, and if you look at the reality, there's zero, zero science behind those allegations."