CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A petition calling for the removal of a Chesapeake School Board member has been launched after she posted several unproven statements regarding COVID-19 on Facebook.

The petition titled “Remove racism and misinformation from Chesapeake School Board” was posted to Friday. It accuses Christie New Craig of sharing “racist memes, scribbling conspiracy theories about Covid-19” and “boldly refusing to wear a mask for the safety of others.”

New Craig, who has sat on the board since 2010, recently made her personal Facebook page private. But the change in privacy settings wasn’t before people screenshotted posts in which she shared politically-charged memes and her thoughts on current events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 29, she wrote that “facts are real … Since March 2020 … the Government has successfully figured out a way to make you believe that Covid-19 is deadly … the test results are not accurate….”

In the same post, she claimed that “this is all being done to keep [President Donald] Trump from winning again in 2020.”

WAVY-TV was contacted by numerous teachers and parents this week about the specific post, concerned it wasn’t based in fact.

Doctors have maintained since before government-related shutdowns were initiated that while COVID-19 is deadly, it is not a death sentence, although nearly 2,000 deaths have occurred in Virginia since the first case was confirmed March 7. No conclusive credible evidence has been found dismissing the accuracy of test results.

“I was pretty shocked. I was very upset,” said Erin Rivera, whose 5-year-old is expected to start kindergarten in the fall. “I am worried about the safety of my children through this pandemic and it appears as though she is politicizing COVID-19.” 

New Craig, who is also chief of staff for state Sen. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake), could not be reached after numerous attempts.

Yet this isn’t the first time she has faced backlash over her social media use. In 2015 she posted a meme that read “Muslims hate pork, beer, dogs, bikinis, Jesus, and freedom of speech. My question is, what the hell do they come to America for?!”

When reached by WAVY-TV at that time she said “she didn’t agree with the post” and just shared it.

“I feel that it needs to be acknowledged and there needs to be a conversation and the public needs to become aware,” Rivera said.

Many people expressed that they worried about New Craig’s beliefs possibly influencing a premature decision by the school district to hold in-person classes.

While Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) released recommendations on how to reopen, ultimate decisions are left up to individual school boards.

Monday at Chesapeake’s School Board meeting New Craig, along with several of her colleagues expressed a desire to see students physically back in school for five day weeks.

“Our teachers, I’m concerned about them, some may have underlying issues and health concerns. It’s not for me to tell them whether to come back to school or not but I consider them essential personnel,” New Craig said. “They have to make some hard choices. They have to decide if they are going to retire go out medically, or are they going to come back to school.”

The school board is made up of nine members and thus far no final decision has been made.

While school board Chairwoman Victoria Proffitt didn’t return WAVY-TV’s request for comment, but she did release a statement.

This week, comments made by another Chesapeake Public School Board member attracted news coverage and raised concerns from our school community. As elected officials, Board members maintain their right to freedom of expression. However, it is important to note that the opinions of one Board member do not represent the thoughts, ideas, beliefs and/or opinions of other Board members, the entire School Board, or the school district. I am very proud of the extraordinary efforts by the Chesapeake Public Schools in bringing together the best and most recently available scientific data and public health recommendations related to COVID-19. The school district has and continues to survey our stakeholders, including parents and our employees, in an effort to develop responsive and effective plans for our schools to reopen.

– Victoria Proffitt, Chesapeake School Board chairwoman

The only way to remove an elected official from office when no crime has been committed is by way of a recall petition. In New Craig’s case, more than 1,800 signatures of registered voters would be needed.

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