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New controversy surrounding Centner Academy over COVID-19 vaccine policy with students

A new school year and a new controversy at Centner Academy.

MIAMI – A new school year and a new controversy at Centner Academy.

The private school near Miami’s pricey Design District which made headlines last spring for a controversial email warning staff from getting a COVID-19 vaccine is now in the spotlight again for another email, this time to parents.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Aileen Marty said the email asking parents to keep their kids home for 30-days following a COVID-19 vaccine dose is underpinned by misleading claims.

“That is not written by anyone who has any understanding of the science, it’s just that simple, it’s pure fiction,” said Dr. Marty. “It’s very destructive because it misleads people, and because it is coming out of an educational institution, it’s even more misleading, because there are people who are just not well versed in science and they can easily, unfortunately be misled.”

In an email to Local 10 News, school co-founder David Centner said the email sent to families was grounded in their priorities to “students’ well-being and their sense of safety within our educational environment.”

The email also stated that the school’s policy is based on their interpretation of Pfizer’s COVID-19 testing protocols and, “numerous anecdotal cases.”

Also, in the email to Local 10 News, the co-founder added, “Big Pharma itself has created reasonable uncertainty as to whether their product may carry the risk of ‘adverse events’ via inhalation or skin contact to those who are unvaccinated.”

Local 10 News reached out to Pfizer regarding the claims made by Centner, and received the following response:

“The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is a synthetic mRNA vaccine and does not contain any virus particles. Because there is no virus produced in the body, no shedding occurs within the human body. The vaccine cannot be inhaled via shedding and can only enter the human body through an administered dose.”

Regarding Centner’s email to parents, Dr. Marty recognizes the danger that spreading of misinformation can lead too.

“Ultimately increasing the risk in our community and putting unnecessary fears into people’s minds,” said Dr. Marty.

The CDC has already debunked claims that COVID-19 vaccines can shed or release their components, explaining, “Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus. None of the vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. contain a live virus.”

“It is a fact, it is not a matter of opinion,” said Dr. Marty. “It is a matter of fact, there is no virus in a Messenger RNA vaccine. Period.”

Centner Academy’s website makes clear they have a distinct perspective on vaccine regulations, not just the COVID-19 vaccine, citing “freedom of choice” and saying they accept religious exemptions.

The parents Local 10 News spoke with who said they had children enrolled at the school last year said Monday they have already pulled them out and enrolled them in different schools this academic school year.

Local 10 News did request to speak with the school’s owner and co-founder, Leila Centner.

Flanked by two armed security guards, a school staff member came outside and said Centner would speak later in the day.

“At 4:15 p.m. Leila Centner, the owner of the school, will come out and give you the opportunity to ask any questions,” the staffer said. “And we will tell you, none of our parents are going to talk to you. Most of the parents you are going to approach are all with us.”

Unfortunately, when 4:15 p.m. rolled around, Centner was a no-show. A security guard told Local 10 News that something came up and Center would not be there at the time previously promised.

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About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."