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Antibody drug neutralizes virus variants in laboratory examination; COVID-19 antibodies that can be detected 12 months after infection

New York Times

How a Miami School Became a Lighthouse for Anti-Waxers

MIAMI – A fifth-grade math and science teacher sent a false conspiracy theory to students at Centner Academy, a private school in Miami, on Wednesday, warning them not to hug parents who had been vaccinated against coronavirus for more than five seconds , because they may be exposed to harmful vaccine emissions. “Hola Mami,”

; a student wrote in an email to his parents from the school, saying that the teacher “asked us to stay away from you.” Nearly a week before, the school had threatened teachers’ employment if they received a coronavirus vaccine before the end of the school year. Sign up for The Morning Newsletter from the New York Times Alarmed parents sent a wild text message to each other on WhatsApp, trying to find a way to pull their kids out at the end of the period. Inside the Centner Academy, however, “hundreds of inquiries from around the world” came to teaching positions, according to the administration. More came from people who wanted to enroll their children in school, where tuition runs up to $ 30,000 a year. The small school in Miami’s trendy Design District became a national beacon for anti-vaccination activists almost overnight last week, just as U.S. public health officials fought for how to overcome vaccine skepticism. The policy, which prevented teachers from getting in touch with students after the vaccination, led to a stream of TV news staff parked outside the school for several days, prompting teachers to keep children indoors for physical exercise and leisure. Leila Centner, the school’s co-founder who said she is not against fully tested vaccines, wrote on Instagram that the media “is trying to ruin my reputation because I went against their narrative.” Devoted followers cheered her on. “We will not let them take you down!” wrote one of them on Instagram. “We stand strong with you! You are an angel trying to save our children and teachers. Centner, an avid social media user who has long used his accounts to document his luxurious lifestyle, took effective control of the school last year in the midst of the pandemic. She told the community that the school with the kindergarten through 8th grade would focus on “happiness” and adhere to “medical freedom.” 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 wealthy and well-connected Centner brought her anti-vaccination and anti-masking to the school’s daily life that transformed it , who had been a close-knit community, to a bitter split between those who support her view on vaccinations and those who do not. “Every afternoon I have to explain things to my child when she comes home and says, ‘Why does school say what you say is not right?'” Said Iris Acosta-Zobel, referring to the importance she gives to the home. to masking and vaccinations.She pulled her daughter out of school Friday.David Centner, a former electronic tolling entrepreneur who co-founded the school in her current iteration with her wife, said in written answers to questions that the school listened to families. “We have met more than 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 the school, said she was not worried “Everything was blown out of proportion,” she said. “I’m comfortable keeping the vaccine away. My biggest concern is the happiness of the children.” Most of the people interviewed for this article asked for anonymity to protect their children or d your employment. Some former parents and teachers said they feared retaliation if they spoke in public. Others declined to comment because the school had forced them to sign disclosure agreements. The anti-vaccination policy requires that newly vaccinated teachers keep their distance from students – Leila Centner, for example, asked teachers not to hug the children. It caused such a frenzy that a reporter asked about it during a briefing in the White House. (The school received $ 804,375 from the federal paycheck protection program during the pandemic.) Jen Psaki, press secretary, noted that public health guidelines strongly encourage coronavirus vaccines and are intended to keep people safe. Centner Academy opened in its current form last year after Centners, which previously had only the preschool, took over Metropolitan International School, an established private school that focused on foreign languages ​​and served an international clientele. Its owner retired, saying the school would merge with the kindergarten owned by Centners, who in recent years has donated heavily to the Republican Party and former President Donald Trump. When the pandemic hit, the school’s old identity and leaders were gone and the cents were at the helm. Things started to change, the parents said. Surveillance cameras were installed to record both video and audio for what David Centner said were security and insurance purposes. Leila Centner once noted that children should be kept away from windows for fear of radiation from 5G cell towers, another baseless conspiracy theory. (Kindergarten windows now have electromagnetic frequency “shielding blockers,” David Centner said in response to a question about the school’s 5G concerns.) The school was opposed to feeding children sugar and gluten, requiring students to wear different indoor and outdoor shoes. . Some parents said they found such ideas strange but unsupportive – in contrast to what began to happen with the school’s response to coronavirus. The school opened for personal instruction in September and initially promised to follow the guidelines for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as a local masking mandate. But teachers said they found no attempt at social distance during the briefing in August, and Leila Centner advised against masking. Teachers had to sign exceptions recognizing that there was a health risk associated with returning to work in person. When the Florida Department of Health visited routine food inspections in August and December, teachers were asked to mask, according to a former teacher and a current teacher who produced two WhatsApp messages as evidence. Parents were offered forms to exempt their children from any need to wear masks, similar to a school policy that also exempts children from vaccines of any kind if their parents so wish. Leila Centner ran a WhatsApp group called “Knowledge Is Key” (connection was optional, David Centner said), where she shared anti-vaccination material with teachers. When a parent asked if the school would require the flu vaccine, Leila Centner expressed her skepticism about vaccines in a letter to parents. She cited a nonprofit organization started by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccination crusader. “As many of you may have learned by now, we are not blind followers and we do not try to make fear-based decisions,” she wrote. In November, two grade levels in kindergarten added two days of online-only instruction to their long Thanksgiving break after several COVID-19 cases were confirmed. When Florida began administering coronavirus vaccines, Leila Centner invited members of the school community to a virtual conversation with an anti-vaccinating pediatrician to discuss potential dangers of the vaccines. Kennedy visited the school and met with teachers. So did another anti-vaccination activist who also met with students. Then came the announcement that vaccinated teachers should stay away from students or would not be allowed to return until now if they get the vaccine during the summer. “If you want to get it, this will not be the right school for you,” Leila Centner told teachers about the vaccine during a virtual call. No one spoke with concerns, said Jimena Hills, a faculty member who supports Leila Centner, saying she had no problem with the school’s vaccination policy and believed they should not have been leaked to the press. “All this controversy could really have been avoided,” she said. School officials insisted they did not deter students from getting close to their vaccinated parents. Centner told parents during a meeting Thursday that the teacher mentioned by students in 5th grade in his email had spoken out of turn; the teacher has since apologized and withdrawn his statement, she said. The meeting was still sometimes tense, several parents said. One father, they said, was facing a faculty member who had spoken on behalf of the school and the teacher’s vaccination policy. The school continued to defend the policy on Friday. “At our school, we have asked our teachers to take a careful, cautious break and get through the remaining weeks until the demands made are further investigated,” said David Centner. “We encourage teachers to consult their healthcare providers when making these medical decisions.” Local state senator Jason WB Pizzo, a Democrat, said he was told that neither the Department of Education nor the Department of Health had jurisdiction over the school’s vaccination policy. (Centner Academy had a student receive a public coupon this school year.) On Thursday, Pizzo introduced a bill that he hoped would prevent schools and businesses from banning people from being vaccinated, calling such a policy “quackery.” He had bipartisan support. “Let’s show that the Senate is not insane,” said State Senator Jeff Brandes of Skt. Petersburg, a Republican. It failed by a bound voice. Back in Miami, Leila Centner seemed unnoticed. On Friday, she posted on Instagram that she would speak next month at a “freedom-fighting festival” with several conservative political fixtures, including Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. Its theme: “Reopening America.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

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