Florida private school says it will not employ teachers who get the COVID-19 vaccine

(Courtesy: WSVN)

A private school founded by an anti-vaccination activist in South Florida has warned teachers and staff against taking the COVID-19 vaccine, saying it will not employ anyone who has received the shot.

The Centner Academy in Miami sent a notice to parents on Monday informing them of a new policy for its two campuses for about 300 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Teachers or staff who have already taken the vaccine were told to continue reporting to school but to stay separated from students.

Co-founder Leila Centner told employees in a letter last week that she made the policy decision with a "very heavy heart," the Miami Herald reported. Centner asked those who have not received a COVID-19 vaccine to wait until the end of the school year, and recommended holding off until research shows how the vaccine might affect the non-vaccinated.

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The email reportedly spread misinformation about the potential risks of the vaccines without citing any scientific evidence.

Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease specialist with Florida International University’s Wertheim College of Medicine, said there is no evidence that unvaccinated people face any risks from the vaccinations of others.

According to WSVN, Centner sent a text message to staffers that read, "Please remember, this shot is an experimental drug and you are part of the experiment which I am fine with. The problem that I have is I do not want to be part of the experiment."

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The United Teachers of Dade Union blasted the school's decision in a statement to WSVN.

"These schools not only teach misinformation and peddle propaganda, they punish teachers who try to protect themselves and their families," union president Karla Hernandez Mats told the station. "We are horrified by the unsafe conditions and labor violations that colleagues at schools such as this one have to endure."

Centner and her husband David Centner started the school in 2019 after moving to Miami from New York. The school's website promotes "medical freedom" from vaccines and offers to help parents opt out of vaccines that are otherwise required for students in Florida.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.