FACT CHECK: Whitmer Flat Out Lies That Michigan Students Were Only Out Of Classrooms For Three Months

October 27, 2022

Grand Rapids, Michigan—Republican Gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon today issued the following fact check related to Gretchen Whitmer's false claims that Michigan students were only out of the classroom for three months. This outright lie flies in the face of parents who know from their first-hand experiences that Michigan kids "learned" remotely for longer stretches of time than many other states as Whitmer pursued the most draconian lockdown measures in the country to appeal to the far-left wing of her party.

Now our students are suffering from a learning loss like never seen before and are in the midst of an education catastrophe under the failed leadership of Gretchen Whitmer. The latest NAEP results show Michigan’s 4th grade reading scores are the lowest in three decades and that Michigan’s students lost seven points in reading, more than double the national average of three. This puts Michigan's ranking in the bottom ten states in the nation.

Michigan’s schools were hardly closed for only three months. In January of 2021, nearly a year into the pandemic, only 24 percent of Michigan schools were fully open in-person. By comparison, Ohio and Wisconsin had half of their schools open, and Indiana had 75% open. It’s no surprise that our neighboring states all saw students perform above the national average in math, while Michigan’s students lagged behind.

"Gretchen Whitmer is gaslighting every parent in Michigan with her blatant lies and attempt to rewrite history," said Tudor Dixon. "She will try to tell you that what you experienced didn't happen, but the fact of the matter is that Gretchen Whitmer is a dishonest politician who has time and again passed up opportunities to empower parents and do what is best for students. Gretchen, not the pandemic, is responsible for plunging test scores and record low education achievement. It didn't have to be this way."

Dissecting Gretchen Whitmer’s False Claim That Michigan Students Were Only Out of Classrooms ‘For Three Months’
Washington Free Beacon
Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer claimed Tuesday that Michigan students were only kept out of classrooms "for three months." But many students struggled with remote learning for more than a year, and Whitmer encouraged school closures even after her shutdown orders expired.

Michigan Gov. Whitmer blasted for claiming schools shut for only three months
Washington Times
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was slammed Wednesday for claiming during a gubernatorial debate that schools were shuttered for only three months during the pandemic, drawing attention to her much-maligned response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Democrats' very bad debate night
Washington Examiner
Whitmer then made an astonishing claim: “Mrs. Dixon says that I kept students out longer than any other state,” she said. “That's just not true….Kids were out [of school] for three months.” This is a baldfaced lie, as Michigan parents well know. Some districts shut down their classrooms for nearly a year — Ann Arbor’s district began its 2022 school year virtually — and Whitmer never made any attempt to reopen them. She also allowed her health director to order all schools in the state, including colleges and universities, to return to remote learning for three weeks in November 2020.


  • March 12, 2020 – Whitmer orders all K-12 schools in Michigan closed for 3 weeks. (Gretchen Whitmer, Remarks At A Press Conference, 3/12/20)
  • April 2, 2020 – Whitmer closed all public and private K-12 schools through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. (Ron French, “Whitmer Closes Michigan Classrooms For School Year Due To Coronavirus,” Bridge Michigan, 4/2/20)
  • May 18, 2020 – Whitmer signed an executive order to create the COVID-19 Return To School Advisory Council. (Executive Order No. 2020-88, “COVID-19 Return To School Advisory Council,” Executive Office Of The Governor, 5/18/20)
  • June 17, 2020 – Whitmer announced that Michigan schools may resume in-person leaning in phase 4 of the MI Safe Start plan. (Press Release, “Governor Whitmer Announces Next Steps For School Reopening In The Fall,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, 6/18/20)
  • June 30, 2020 – Whitmer released the MI Safe Schools Return To School Roadmap giving guidelines to help districts reopen. (Derick Hutchinson, “Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Reveals Plan For Schools To Return To In-Person Learning This Fall,” ClickOnDetroit, 6/30/20)
  • July 9, 2020 – Whitmer: “I'm not sending kids into our schools unless it's safe. We're listening to scientists, not politicians.” (CNN’s “Early Start,” 7/9/20)
  • July 10, 2020 – Whitmer: “I'm not sending kids and our education workforce into our schools unless it's safe, it's that simple.” (CNN’s “Newsroom,” 7/10/20)
  • August 20, 2020 – Whitmer signed legislation outlining expectations for schools reopening. The plan did not require districts to offer in-person learning to be eligible for state funding. (Lauren Gibbons, “Gov. Whitmer Signs Back-To-School Legislation Allowing For Virtual Learning,” MLive, 8/20/20)
  • November 15, 2020 – Whitmer told Wolf Blitzer there will only be remote learning in high schools. (CNN’s “The Situation Room,” 11/15/20)
  • November 15, 2020 – Whitmer announced a 3 week ban on in-person education in high schools. (David Shepardson, “Michigan To Halt Indoor Dining, In-Person High School, College For Three Weeks,” Reuters, 11/15/20)
  • December 7, 2020 – Whitmer announced an extension of the ban on in-person instruction through December 20. (Craig Mauer, Beth LeBlanc, “Michigan Gov. Whitmer Extends COVID-19 Pause Through Dec. 20,” The Detroit News, 12/7/20)
  • December 21, 2020 – Whitmer announced the state was revising its COVID-19 order to resume in-person high school classes. (Derick Hutchinson, “Michigan Revises COVID-19 Order To Reopen High Schools, Some Entertainment Venues,” ClickOnDetroit, 12/18/20)
  • January 8, 2021 - Whitmer announces a goal of all schools offering an option for in-person learning no later than March 1. (Gretchen Whitmer, Remarks At Press Briefing, 1/8/21) Minute: 03:34 – 04:39
  • When asked why schools are not required to offer in-person learning, Whitmer said they want to “encourage” in-person learning. (Gretchen Whitmer, Remarks At Press Briefing, 1/8/21) Minute: 21:23 – 22:47
  • February 4, 2021 – When asked what she would say to school districts restarting athletics without offering in-person learning, Whitmer said she was not going “second guess” individual districts. (Gretchen Whitmer, Remarks At A Press Briefing, 2/4/21)
  • The Detroit News Headline: “Whitmer 'Lets Them Play,' Lifts Ban On Contact High School Sports” (Craig Mauger, Beth LeBlanc, and David Goricki, “Whitmer 'Lets Them Play,' Lifts Ban On Contact High School Sports,” The Detroit News, 2/4/21)
  • April 9, 2021 – Whitmer urged schools to halt in-person learning for 2 weeks, but stopped short of issuing an order. (“Michigan Gov. Whitmer Urges Halting In-Person School, Youth Sports,” The Associated Press, 4/9/21)
  • August 24, 2021 – Whitmer said there were “no plans to do any broad mandates” regarding mask mandates in schools. (Sarah Cwiek, “Whitmer: Don't Expect School Mask Mandate From State,” Michigan Radio, 8/24/21)
  • 46 percent of all public school students in Michigan were in schools that had mask mandates. (Ron French, “Almost Half Of Michigan Students Now In Schools With COVID Mask Mandates,” Bridge Michigan, 8/25/21)
  • January 26, 2022 – Whitmer said she and legislative leaders were discussing new ways to ensure schools can offer in-person classes. (Dave Boucher, “Whitmer, Lawmakers Exploring More Ways To Ensure In-Person Classes Amid Pandemic,” Detroit Free Press, 1/26/22)
  • January 27, 2022 – Whitmer clarifies that she is calling on schools still using virtual education to bring student back into the classroom. (Sam Corey, “Whitmer Calls On Schools To Go Back To In-Person Instruction,” WDET, 1/27/22)

More Stories