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How the Centner Academy Turned a Beacon for Anti-Vaxxers

Ms. Centner, an avid social media consumer who has lengthy used her accounts to doc her luxurious life-style, took efficient management of the varsity final yr, within the midst of the pandemic. She instructed the group that the varsity, with prekindergarten by way of eighth grades, would deal with “happiness” and espouse “medical freedom.”

Credit score…Romain Maurice/Getty Photos for Haute Dwelling

However interviews with 21 present and former dad and mom and academics, in addition to a assessment of social media posts and of college paperwork, emails, textual content messages and movies, present how the rich and well-connected Ms. Centner introduced her anti-vaccination and anti-masking views into the varsity’s day-to-day life, turning what had been a tightknit group into one bitterly break up between those that assist her views on vaccinations and those that don’t.

“Each afternoon I’ve to elucidate issues to my little one when she comes residence and says, ‘How come the varsity says what you’re saying just isn’t proper?’” stated Iris Acosta-Zobel, referring to the significance she offers at residence to masking and vaccinations. She pulled her daughter out of the varsity on Friday.

David J. Centner, a former digital freeway tolling entrepreneur who co-founded the varsity in its present iteration together with his spouse, stated in written responses to questions that the varsity was listening to households. “We’ve got met with greater than 70 dad and mom, and we’re happy that so many households proceed to assist our mission and belief us with their youngsters,” he stated.

Sara Dagan, who has 4 youngsters on the faculty, stated she was not troubled by the controversy. “Every little thing was blown out of proportion,” she stated. “I’m comfy with holding off on the vaccine. My fundamental concern is the happiness of the children.”

Most individuals interviewed for this text requested anonymity to guard their youngsters or their employment. Some former dad and mom and academics stated they feared retaliation in the event that they spoke publicly. Others declined to remark as a result of the varsity had made them signal nondisclosure agreements.

The anti-vaccination coverage requires just lately vaccinated academics to keep up a distance from college students — Ms. Centner instructed academics to not hug the kids, for instance. It precipitated such a frenzy {that a} reporter requested about it throughout a White Home briefing. (The college obtained $804,375 from the federal Paycheck Safety Program in the course of the pandemic.) Jen Psaki, the press secretary, famous that public well being pointers strongly encourage vaccines in opposition to the coronavirus and are supposed to hold folks protected.

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