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Florida education agency to investigate private school ordering pupils who get a vaccine shot to stay home

<i>CNN</i><br/>The Florida Department of Education on Thursday sent a letter to the Centner Academy
The Florida Department of Education on Thursday sent a letter to the Centner Academy

By Rebekah Riess and Gregory Lemos, CNN

The Florida Department of Education on Thursday sent a letter to the Centner Academy, a Miami private school with a controversial policy for students who get vaccine shots.

Centner Academy has asked parents to keep their children home for 30 days if their child has received a Covid-19 vaccine dose, according to a letter sent to parents and obtained by CNN affiliate WSVN. The letter cites false and disproved claims about the impact of the inoculation.

The school had previously made unsubstantiated claims about adverse reactions non-vaccinated people could have by “interacting with people who have been vaccinated” that have not been identified in or supported by research by the Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health or World Health Organization.

All four agencies, backed by extensive research, have confirmed that vaccines are the best method of defense against the spread of the coronavirus and severe illness and death from Covid-19.

In their letter, the Department of Education said it had recently come to its attention that the school “may employ attendance policies which require parents of recently vaccinated students to quarantine their children for an unreasonable, unnecessary and unduly burdensome amount of time before returning for in-person instruction.”

Senior Chancellor Jacob Oliva reminded the school that while the Department of Education is still investigating the matter, Centner Academy has “various obligations under the law — specifically, both attendance and health, safety and welfare requirements.”

Oliva encouraged school officials to review their policies and conform them to Florida law. Failure to abide by the state’s requirements would jeopardize the schools’ scholarship eligibility, now and in the future, Oliva wrote.

Oliva said the academy has until Friday to show its policies are in compliance with relevant laws.

“Should our investigation reveal that your schools’ policies fail to comport with these lawful rights and obligations, understand that the action that follows — up to and including revocation of your schools’ scholarship eligibility and funding — will be both swift and decisive,” the letter says.

CNN has reached out to Centner Academy for comment regarding the department’s letter.

Centner letter makes claims of vaccine shedding

The letter from Centner Academy to parents, read in part, “If you are considering the vaccine for your Centner Academy student(s), we ask that you hold off until the Summer when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease,” WSVN reported.

“Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free,” the letter added, according to WSVN’s reporting.

Centner Academy co-founder David Centner said in a statement earlier this week the policy is a “prudent precautionary measure.”

“To be clear, the school leadership does not believe that one who is vaccinated can infect another person with COVID,” he added. “Further, the school is not opining on whether a vaccinated person can negatively impact others.”

“However, due to voluminous anecdotal reports in circulation on this latter topic, we must err on the side of caution when making decisions that may impact the health of the school community. Until there are definitive and scientifically proven studies that refute these reports, we need to do what is best for our students and staff,” Centner said.

CNN reached out to Centner Academy requesting a copy of the email sent to families but didn’t hear back.

The CDC, on its page dedicated to Myths and Facts about vaccines, says: “Vaccine shedding is the term used to describe the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body. Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus. None of the (Covid-19) vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. contain a live virus.”

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for people ages 16 and older and has emergency use authorization (EUA) for children 12-15. Pfizer is seeking an EUA for a lower-dose vaccine for children 5 to 11.

The vaccines of two other US makers — Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen — are authorized for people 18 and older. The vaccines are being studied in younger ages.

Teachers warned in April

In April the Centner Academy asked its employees to wait until the end of the school year to get vaccinated, but still cautioned that if they did, they wouldn’t be allowed to return for the next academic year.

The school’s CEO and co-founder, Leila Centner, sent a letter to faculty and staff at the Centner Academy citing unsupported assertions about Covid-19 vaccines that contradicted a large body of evidence of the vaccines’ safety and efficacy from health experts.

Centner,, the wife of David Centner, claimed in the letter that “it will be years before we have reliable information regarding the short- and long-term effects of the Covid-19 vaccines.”

Extensive testing has shown the three vaccines are safe and effective, according to federal regulators.

When it opened in 2019, the Centner Academy described itself as the “first happiness school,” with an emphasis on mindfulness. Nearly 300 students attend the school, which offers preschool through middle school, with tuition peaking at $29,850 before fees, according to the school website.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Raja Razek and Scottie Andrew contributed to this report.

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