Schoolyard bully? My Shocking exchange with School Board Chair Keith Roark

Is BCSD Board chair Keith Roark a school yard bully?

Friends, below I am sharing the email exchange I had with Blaine County School District (BCSD) Board Chair Keith Roark. Other residents have submitted comments, articles, and science to the school board challenging the necessity of emergency orders and the actual state of emergency in our county and have been met with derision from Roark so unfortunately his conduct with me yesterday is not an exception. Additionally, a former board member stated she resigned from the board in part because of the hostile climate and bullying perpetrated by Roark.

I ask you, is this the temperament, behavior and character befitting a public servant especially one charged with overseeing the well being of our children at school? How can any parent feel comfortable in a school district run by a close-minded bully such as this? If a public servant can’t receive new information or a different perspective with grace and gratitude, should they be in that position at all?

I have copied and pasted the emails in sequential order for ease of reading.

My first email sent to the school board September 9, 2020 at 2:48 PM:

Dear Blaine County School Board,

A family member received the email/letter below from a doctor living in his area and forwarded it to me. As you read the letter, please bear in mind that through September 3rd, there have been 34,497 deaths from all causes year to date nationwide in those birth to 24 years and only 360 of those involved Covid though CDC defines Covid deaths as follows: “Deaths with confirmed or presumed COVID-19.” That is to say, one must test positive or merely be presumed Covid positive to be included in these numbers! But even if one does test positive, CDC data shows that up to 90% of positive tests do not mean a person is infectious or infected. A positive test is virtually meaningless so those 360 deaths are suspect. There were 201,539 deaths in those aged 25-54 of which 13,815 “involved” Covid. See all the data here.

The doctor’s letter is a great synopsis of where are. It is worth bearing in mind that since the WR valley was one of the first to go through the pandemic months ago, we achieved herd immunity last spring which is why we have had such low numbers ever since. There is simply no reason for the emergency orders now including masks and physical distancing. There is no reason our kids can’t play sports and go to school normally. There is no reason we can’t live normally.

I understand you were frightened and wanted to protect the community but clearly the danger has subsided so please do the prudent thing and end the emergency. 

Please also watch the following jaw-dropping video and read the doctor’s letter below:

Letter from doctor:

Hi Everyone,

It’s been a while since I have written you about COVID-19. I have to say, I feel a bit like we were all duped into thinking this thing was going to be much worse than how it has really turned out. Looking back, you’ll recall that in March, we were told that the death rate would be as high as 4% of the population. Remember that? The media was breathlessly reporting imminent catastrophe. For my part, I too was swept up in the tide of concern and have to apologize for any further fear I may have caused. As a physician, you’d think I would have access to some insider “secret” info… but it’s not the case. I hear the news reports just like you do. I’ve had to wait on some of the better scientific information to come out in order to understand things better.

A 4% death rate would have been terrible indeed. Those projections led us to believe that around one person in 20 or so was expected to die very soon. Just four percent of the population meant that we could expect to lose around 13 million Americans. Thankfully, it did not turn out that way!

Yet, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the fear-based decisions made by our leaders have caused a great deal of damage to the economy. This is certainly disheartening for those who have lost their job or their business.

So, I thought I’d take the time to just talk for a moment about what we have actually seen and reflect on some of the emerging data. Below I have included the links to some specific sites backing up what I am saying. Depending on how this goes through, you may have to cut and paste these links into your browser if you want to explore this info:

First, some telling statistics. The average age of the person dying from COVID has been 80 years old. And while we hate to lose anyone, it is telling that life expectancy in the U.S. (men and women combined) is below that age at only 78.5.

I have found it interesting that for the most part, when I have talked to my elderly patients about their risks, they are unafraid. They are mostly angry about what has happened to the economy. They tend to view all of this with a measure of wisdom and grace knowing that they have lived a long and full life. Strangely, it is the younger crowd that seems to be more fearful.

Another interesting stat: Every day in the U.S around 7500 people die from all causes. Why? Well, because we have a population of over 330 million, and people die every day. This is an inevitable part of life. So, when COVID was claiming 1000 lives a day, by how much do you suppose the total number of deaths rose? One might think the daily death total rose by those 1000 deaths to a total of 8500… but one would be wrong.

When the US was losing 1000 people a day to COVID, we find that the total number of deaths daily rose by only 300 to 7800 deaths per day. How do we explain this? It’s explained, in part, by realizing that the average age of a COVID 10 death occurs in people older than the life expectancy. It is also what we have been hearing, if we have been listening carefully, to the reports that most of the folks dying from COVID had underlying medical conditions.

In many cases, those dying of COVID were already very sick. Often, in the latter stages of life as diseases add up, it only takes a final insulting event (like catching a cold or flu or getting a urinary tract infection) to push someone over the edge and cause death. Evidently, based on these stats, we can infer that for 70 percent of the folks dying from COVID, this was the case. This has been shamefully under reported by the media who seems set on provoking fear and panic.

Another interesting stat: around 20 kids have died from COVID in the U.S. since it all began. But during the same time over 13,000 kids have died from other causes. Children are about 15 to 20 times more likely to die of influenza than COVID. Amazing. The level of panic given this statistic is amazing.

Although it has been hard to pin down the exact death rate for healthy young working aged individuals (because we can’t know exactly what percentage of the population has gotten COVID), it appears now that death rate is closer to one out of every 1000. To put that in a little better perspective, it means we will see around 999 out of 1000 working aged people who get COVID live to tell about it.

About one month ago, in the very highly thought of science journal Nature, this study was published

In this study, researchers did something remarkable. They took blood samples from July 2019 (pre COVID blood) and looked for evidence of “T-cell” immunity. They found that over 50% of the samples from these unexposed individuals had some memory immunity to COVID 19. How is that? Well, there are 6 different Coronavirus strains out there and four of them cause a version the common cold (there are also several other viruses that also cause what we call the “cold”). It turns out that the Coronaviruses are similar enough that in at least 50% of folks tested there is some crossover immunity to COVID-19. This would explain why I have seen in my practice whole families infected where some of the members don’t manifest a single symptom of COVID 19 while others experience something more like the flu.

This is fantastic news! This implies (if the 50% number is correct) that over half the population is already somewhat immune to COVID.
When you add to this the realization that through antibody studies we have already seen over 20% of the population infected with COVID, you come to the conclusion that we are closing in on 75% to 80% of the population being immune.
This means we are rapidly approaching the “herd immunity” threshold. If this is true, we should be seeing the infection rates and death rates dropping off dramatically.

Are we seeing this? Absolutely. Check this out:

You’ll need to scroll down to the table titled “daily deaths”. You can click on to an option for the “7 day moving average” and see that we are on the downslope. There was a bump this summer, and I believe it is attributable to COVID moving into areas of the US (the south) where it had not been all that prevalent before (as if it moved to another country). As it moves through, COVID does what viruses do and it infects some of the population until it began to run out of people to infect (because herd immunity begins to shut down the spread) and thus the cases begin to fall. This has happened everywhere it has been.

Politicians and community leaders will have you to believe that their interventions led to the decline. This is simply not true. Viruses do what viruses do. What we are seeing was likely to happen regardless of the intervention. If one doubts this, one can simple look to countries and communities where no shutdown and no universal masking was ordered… and see that at the end of the day there was no virtually no difference in the percentage of deaths per population. This article from the prestigious medical journal Lancet studied this and agrees:

It appears, regrettably, that much of what was done by our government to slow this down was futile.

But there is more: What scientists and epidemiologists (those who study the effects of diseases on a population) have known for decades is that when a disease moves through a population it does so in a very repeatable specific fashion. It forms a “bell curve” over time. At first very few people are infected, but as the disease spreads, more and more become infected until the peak number of cases are seen. After it peaks, the pathogen begins to run out of non-immune people and the number of cases begin to fall. This is what forms the “bell curve” shape of the number of cases per day.

With COVID, we have been unable to see the actual number of cases, and so we have been sort to blind to what is going on. Why? Because a great number of people who have been infected have had little or no symptoms. So, they didn’t seek care. So, they didn’t have a test. … and so, their “case” wasn’t counted. So, we cannot see the real “case curve”.

On the other hand, what we can see (with the caveat this may be a little exaggerated because of how COVID deaths have been counted), we CAN See the death curve.

What scientists have known for years is something very interesting. It’s this… the curve on these matters is somewhat symmetrical. This means the front side and the back side of the curve is sort of a mirror image. This means if you know the start date, and you see the peak of the curve, you can estimate when it will all be “over”.

And what does being “over” mean? Well, here is some plain truth. COVID-19 will never really be gone. It’s out there now. It will be hanging around forever. But from a public health policy standpoint, it’s “over” (as an epidemic) when the deaths due to COVID do not add a statistically significant amount to the background deaths that are occurring in a population from all causes. I hope that makes sense.

In other words, though we may still se some COVID deaths out there, if the total number of daily deaths in the U.S. is around 7500, then it’s not statistically a “thing” that needs to be addressed by any sort of public policy.

So here is the amazing news… There are researchers (most notably, Nobel prize winner Michael Levitt, here is his Twitter account: ) looking at this who have given the end date for COVID-19.

Yes, we have an end date! And… it is almost over!!! Any guesses?

Here it is…

August 25th, 2020.

That’s right! Tomorrow!!! (or today if you check your email first thing in the morning).

Now, do you suppose the media will report any of this? I doubt it. Think about it. Fear sells. The media is selling a product. And you are much more likely to “tune in” to their program if you are fearful about what is coming.

So, what now? Well. In my experience, you still don’t want to get COVID. And you don’t want to get the flu, and you don’t want to get pneumonia either. These are not all that different. COVID will certainly be out there and going around in small amounts, and it will inevitably pop up in small outbreaks here and there from time to time. And you can bet the media will report those instances. And so, if you are vulnerable, you still will want to protect yourself (from all germs) in situations where there are dangers. But it appears to me that it is high time for the fear-based decisions to stop. It’s time to stop the non-sense.

As for the politicians who killed our economy out of fear. Well, we all have a decision to make.

As for me, I regret I bought into the hype. I care deeply for every one of my patients. I was deeply concerned for a season given the disturbing reports. I am happy to report to you that we did not lose a single patient to COVID-19. I realize that we still might. But now, we all just need to move forward with wisdom and prudence. And so, we’ll live every day knowing that there are risks out there and we accept those risks and we live and love and serve one another with kindness and grace.

I hope you have a blessed evening and are as happy with this news as I am!

Dr. Frank


BCSD Chair Keith Roark’s response:

On Sep 9, 2020, at 8:14 PM, Keith Roark <> wrote:Ms. Manookian:

I do not know who “Dr. Frank” is since his last name and curriculum vitae is not included in the material you emailed. He could be a Doctor of Theology, a Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine or a Doctor of Philosophy for all I know. Whatever he is, whoever he is, the Blaine County School District Board of Trustees relies on the best medical and scientific data and expertise available, including the work of the CDC and NIH. If you read the Nature article “Dr. Frank” refers to, you would have seen that it provides no support for his “herd immunity” claims whatever. Furthermore, if you actually read the articles published by Lancet you will find a published report on the efficacy of social distancing, masking, and testing. The article concludes:

“The findings of this systematic review and meta-analysis support physical distancing of 1 m or more and provide quantitative estimates for models and contact tracing to inform policy. Optimum use of face masks, respirators, and eye protection in public and health-care settings should be informed by these findings and contextual factors. Robust randomised trials are needed to better inform the evidence for these interventions, but this systematic appraisal of currently best available evidence might inform interim guidance.” Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis., Lancet, Volume 395, Issue 10242, June 27, 2020.

There is no evidence that Blaine County has achieved “herd immunity.” Yes, we flattened the curve – by employing social distancing, masking, contact tracing, avoidance of large group gatherings, and good hygiene – the very measures you urge us to abandon. We don’t presume to know everything there is to know about Covid-19 but then, neither does the mysterious “Dr. Frank” as evidenced by his own words. We do not claim to be the smartest people in the district. But we take our responsibilities seriously and will not endanger the health, safety, and welfare of our students, teachers, staff, and community by an irresponsible, ill-informed rush to open schools irrespective of the risks involved. We will be guided by solid scientific and medical advice from the most trusted individuals and institutions. Everyone, including every trustee, wants to see our students return to classes full-time with all extra-curricular activities restored. As soon as it is safe and responsible to do so, we will do just that. However, we will still require social distancing, masking, and good hygiene. 

You are entitled to your own opinions – you are not entitled to your own facts. You can choose to believe “Dr. Frank” or any conspiracy theorist you may choose. We will follow the advice of the CDC, NIH, and reputable epidemiologists as well as local medical experts whose work we know and trust.

My reply to Roark:

On Thu, Sep 10, 2020 at 1:04 PM Leslie Manookian <> wrote:

Mr. Roark,
This is the chart of daily cases in Blaine County (see second row) according to SCHD. The curve peaked April 1st and was flat by April with no ordinances.  The mask ordinances went into effect in the first half of July meaning they could not have had an impact for 10-14 days. This is the standard curve for outbreaks as explained by Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt a professor at Stanford. There is only one explanation and it’s herd immunity. The experience from Sweden shows that herd immunity is achieved at 10-20% of the population which our valley is well past with no masks or distancing. Abundant data such as that from Boise shows mask ordinances don’t impact the curve in any meaningful way. See here and here.  (Cont. below.)

I know the mainstream media doesn’t cover the hundreds of independent doctors and scientists who have spoken out but the mainstream media are captured by industry and private interests – pharma is the number one advertiser spending billions each year and the Gates Foundation gave a billion dollars in the first decade of this century to the media to write what he wants them to write. And yes Gates has a huge interest in the pandemic having given/invested billions in pharma, the NIH, the CDC Foundation, the groups forecasting the pandemic, medical journals, the universities, and more.

As for the Lancet, they infamously had to retract a negative study on hydroxychloroquine because the data was fraudulent. (So did NEJM.) So much for the peer review process. And Lancet editor Richard Horton has said this about medical science “Much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness.” But sure, you can trust them. 

With respect to science, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are the gold standard in science and are far more reliable than epidemiological studies because RCTs can’t be manipulated like epi studies can. Which brings me to RCT mask studies, NONE of which show a benefit from masks. Only the recent subjective, one might argue manufactured, studies show a benefit which according to Horton are not trustworthy. But sure, just throw out all the gold standard RCTs, and use the epi studies.  

You say you trust medical and health professionals and that is your prerogative, but you might want to know that modern medicine also carries serious risk.

•106,000 deaths annually from properly used FDA approved drugs1
•1.3 million ER visits from adverse drug events and 350,000 subsequent hospitalizations2
•40,000 medical errors EVERY day3
•440,000 preventable deaths from medical errors each year4, 5
•Medical errors are third leading cause of death – but CDC leaves off table6
•4-8 million cases of “serious harm” by hospitals each year7

CDC’s own data shows more kids have commit suicide than died from this disease yet you adopt more stringent rules than recommended by SCHD even though our community has a minute risk. Your draconian policies are not in the benefit of our children nor our community.

You quote the Lancet study but seemed to miss their warning, “Robust randomised [sic] trials are needed to better inform the evidence for these interventions, but this systematic appraisal of currently best available evidence might inform interim guidance.” They admit they need randomized trials and they say this appraisal MIGHT inform interim guidance. Neither of those comments instill confidence and you’re relying on this instead of RCTs?

EVERYTHING I have shared is based on fact. Please show me one thing that is based in conspiracy theory, a term used to deride and undermine those who’s opinions conflict with your own. 

Dr. Frank is an MD from Colorado and sent the letter to his patients, one of whom is a family friend but it shouldn’t matter as doctors of chiropractic and naturopathic medicine are far better trained in health and well being than MD’s whose expertise is in prescribing drugs. Given people like you deride and denigrate those with a different perspective, my family member chose not to share all his details. Again, it’s your choice to choose a conventional medical approach but given the data above, forcing those opinions promulgated by entities with vested interests is wildly inappropriate.

That said, am I to assume that now you’re a doctor? That you understand antibodies, T cells, the immune system? Clearly that’s not the case as although the Nature article does not mention the words “herd immunity” it does discuss the presence of background immunity in the cells and finds that roughly 50% of the test subjects did indeed have background immunity to SARS CoV-2 likely derived from previous coronavirus infections.. Background immunity means they can’t get sick and this may explain why the disease peters out at low levels of exposure in communities. Dr. Frank was 100% accurate in his comments referenced from the paper. 

You are not a dictator but you sure are acting like one, particularly the way you communicate with those who submit respectful comments containing important information you may have not seen and which a mentally and emotionally balanced leader would welcome and encourage. Nothing I wrote was unkind or disrespectful yet you attempt to condescend, disparage, and belittle me with your comments. To borrow your rude and derisive phrase, you are not entitled to your own facts – the chart above clearly shows there is no emergency and there hasn’t been since April.

History will not judge your willful ignorance lightly. Nor your arrogance and condescension towards local parents and tax payers who pay your salaries. Your conduct is anything but becoming of a public servant. 

Your intransigence brings to mind the phrase ‘none are so blind as those who will not see.’ So be clear, I am not replying for your benefit but in the hopes that some of the others on the board have open hearts and minds and are willing to review information they might not have seen themselves. 


Roark’s reply:

On Sep 10, 2020, at 1:37 PM, Keith Roark <> wrote:Ms. Manookian:
I have no interest in corresponding any further with you. You are obviously no authority on or about Covid-19, don’t understand what a pandemic curve is all about, obviously select your sources to support your vacuous theories and claims, and fail to even acknowledge what is going on across the nation in public schools as well as colleges and universities. It is my understanding that your child(ren) do not even attend our schools so your interest how we are approaching the worst pandemic in over a century is a bit of a mystery to me. In any event, thank you for your comments – but I have far more important things to do than engage in nonsensical correspondence.

My reply September 10, 2020 at 2:02 PM

Actually, yes I do have child(ren) in a school in Blaine County and your policies do affect me and my family. Again, please show me one thing I’ve sent that is conspiracy theory or based on a falsehood. 

You are the one intolerant to other opinions. You are the one acting like a tyrant. You are the one disparaging those who email you. Not I. I wrote a researched, respectful email which you responded to with invective, arrogance, and disparagement. Your conduct is disgraceful.

Leslie Manookian