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Miami School Threatens to Fire Teachers Who Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

Florida gonna Florida.


This week in extremely Florida news: a private school in Miami has announced that they will be barring teachers who have received the COVID-19 vaccine from interacting with students. The Centner Academy, located in Miami’s wealthy Design District, is a prekindergarten to 8th-grade school, where tuition costs up to $30,000 a year. The school’s website boasts “medical freedom from mandated vaccines,” and is a part of the larger anti-vaxxer movement among right-wing conservatives.

The school was founded by David Centner, a technology and electronic highway tolling entrepreneur, and his wife Leila Centner, and has been open since 2019. Mrs. Centner announced the stringent new vaccine rules in a letter to her employees, claiming she was burdened “with a very heavy heart” before threatening their livelihoods during a global pandemic. According to Centner’s letter, teachers who received the vaccine over the summer would not be allowed to teach this fall until clinical trials of the vaccine are completed. These trials were, of course, already completed.

Center’s letter contains wild claims you would find on your QAnon aunt’s Facebook page, including the idea that mere physical proximity to a vaccinated person could somehow negatively affect you. She also claimed that “reports have surfaced recently of non-vaccinated people being negatively impacted by interacting with people who have been vaccinated.” Both claims are not true and have been repeatedly debunked. Centner also claimed that being in proximity to a vaccinated person can affect your menstruation cycle and fertility, claims that are equally absurd and have zero basis in scientific fact. I mean, how would that even work? Explain it to me like I’m 5.

It would be one thing if the Centner’s beliefs were swayed by historical malpractice and racist experimentation.

Instead, their beliefs are based on misinformation amplified by the echo chamber of social media and right-wing news. It will not surprise you to find out that the Centners are Republican donors and big-time Trump supporters. And clearly their views are shared by the parents sending their kids to the Centner Academy. It is mindboggling that folks would pay $30K to willfully expose their children to the coronavirus, but it’s a sad indicator of just how prevalent the anti-science and anti-fact agenda really is.

Centner’s unhinged beliefs may be on the fringe, but they’re part of the vaccine hesitancy crisis that could hamper America’s efforts to combat the coronavirus and return to some semblance of normalcy. Achieving herd immunity would require between 70% and 85% of the population to be vaccinated. Currently, the U.S. has administered 231 million vaccines, with 42.5% of the population having received at least one shot and 28.9% fully vaccinated. But despite this progress, demand is slowing down and experts fear we have reached a vaccine hesitancy tipping point.

Vaccine hesitancy is highest among Republicans, with 41% percent claiming they won’t get the vaccine. By comparison, 70% of Democrats have said they plan to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, some Republicans are refusing to get vaccinated to “own the libs” and Tucker Carlson encouraged his viewers to accost mask-wearers and call the police if they see children wearing masks.

As is the case with so many aspects of our country, our national health and well-being are under attack from rabid zealots clinging to conspiracy theories, hateful rhetoric, and lies over science, empathy, and common sense. They’re literally the reason we can’t have the nice things the majority of people actually want: gun control, reproductive freedom, a living wage, a sustainable planet. And now add to that any hope we have for herd immunity. Truly, what is the endgame here? More deaths on top of the 572K already dead in America? Once again, these people are holding the rest of America hostage for power and political gain. What a grim and selfish way to go through life.

Dr. Aileen Marty, a physician and infectious disease specialist with Florida International University’s Wertheim College of Medicine called Centner’s message “very sad,” adding “It gives the illusion that she’s basing it on facts … but there’s not one citation, there’s not one physician or scientist whose name is spelled out in there. There’s no references. There’s nothing. There is no scientific evidence provided. Rumor is the only thing that’s there, and if you look at the reality, there’s zero, zero science behind those allegations.”

Dr. Marty added, “If they believe it, and they then share this big lie, it has a horrific impact on our entire community.”

(via New York Times, image: ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.