Centner Academy in Miami will not employ teachers who receive COVID-19 vaccine

MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida private school is facing backlash after they said they will not let teachers work there if they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Centner Academy in Miami sent an email to teachers and staff that read in part, “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.”

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

“We’re not telling teachers that they can’t get [the vaccine], we’re just simply asking that they hold off a little bit,” said Joshua Hills, a parent and Centner Academy employee.

The email further stated, “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 co-founder of the academy Leila 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.”

Another text from Centner reads in part, “I beg anyone who is thinking to get the shot to hold off.”

Hills said staff members who were vaccinated on or before April 21 are OK to continue working at the academy.

Those who were vaccinated after April 21, however, are asked to not return to the campus.

“We’re asking them not to come back to school only because we don’t know what the side effects could be and how it could affect our student body and our population,” he said. “Because there’s so many unknowns, and there’s been new information daily that’s kind of coming up that shows adverse effects, and we again, just want to err on the side of caution.”

When asked if those who receive the vaccine would be fired, a representative from the school told 7News to “speak to [their] PR person.”

“We’re not anti-vaxxers, we’re in favor of safe vaccines,” Hill said, acting as the school’s spokesperson. “Are these vaccines, is this injection 100% safe? As a parent of two children that go to this school, I’m not willing to take the chance on a question mark.”

A confidential report form that someone sent to employees and sent to 7News requests vaccination information, saying in part, “As a school, we do not consent to take part in an experimental drug with unknown side effects to innocent bystanders. We understand it is your body, your choice but please understand that if you make the decision to take this experimental drug after April 22, you will not be allowed to return to work at Centner Academy.”

Dr. Aileen Marty, infectious disease specialist at Florida International University, said the school’s stance on the COVID vaccine is wrong.

“These are the things you have to bear in mind — the risks from a wild virus, which are very significant, versus the risk from the vaccine, which is almost nonexistent,” she said. “It’s really dangerous when an institution that is supposed to be educating is spreading false rumors.”

Centner Academy told 7News that teachers and employees who do decide to get the vaccine will not be fired. They will remain on the payroll, but they will not be allowed to work with students.

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