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How the Centner Academy became a beacon for anti-Vaxxers

Ms Centner, an avid social media user who has long used her accounts to document her luxurious lifestyle, took over the school last year, amid the pandemic. She told the community that the school, from Kindergarten to Grade 8, would focus on “happiness” and embrace “medical freedom”.

Credit…Romain Maurice / Getty Images For Haute Living

But interviews with 21 current and former parents and teachers, as well as a review of social media posts and school documents, emails, text messages and videos, show how the rich and well-connected Ms Centner brought her. anti-vaccination and anti-vaccination. – masking views on daily school life, transforming what had once been a tight-knit community into a community bitterly divided between those who support its views on vaccinations and those who do not.

“Every afternoon I have to explain things to my child when she comes home and says, ‘How come the school says what you say isn’t right? Said Iris Acosta-Zobel, referring to the importance she places on house masking and vaccinations. She took her daughter out of school on Friday.

David J. Centner, a former electronic highway toll entrepreneur who co-founded the school in its current form with his wife, said in written responses to questions that the school listens to families. “We have met over 70 parents and we are happy that so many families continue to support our mission and trust us with their children,” he said.

Sara Dagan, who has four children at school, said she was not troubled by the controversy. “Everything was out of proportion,” she said. “I am comfortable not getting vaccinated. My main concern is the happiness of the children.

Most of those interviewed for this article requested anonymity to protect their children or their jobs. Some former parents and teachers have said they fear reprisals if they speak out publicly. Others declined to comment because the school made them sign non-disclosure agreements.

The anti-vaccination policy forces newly vaccinated teachers to keep away from students – Ms Centner has told teachers not to kiss children, for example. It caused such a frenzy that a reporter asked about it during a White House briefing. (The school received $ 804,375 from the federal paycheck protection program during the pandemic.) Jen Psaki, the press secretary, noted that public health guidelines strongly encourage coronavirus vaccines and aim to ensure personal safety.

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