In debate with Tudor Dixon, Whitmer misleads Michigan school closures during COVID-19
Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Republican challenger Tudor Dixon held their second and final debate Tuesday night. During an hour-long discussion of Michigan’s future, Whitmer misled school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whitmer said during the debate, “Mrs. Dixon says I’ve kept students out longer than any other state. It’s just not true. … The children were absent (from school) for three months.
This is not correct. While individual school districts decided to send children back in the fall of the 2020-21 school year, Whitmer did not encourage schools to resume in-person learning until January 2021.
That’s why it was a curious statement from Whitmer when she drastically misinformed viewers about the actions she took during her unilateral lockdown of K-12 schools. Without consulting or considering input from the Legislative Assembly on pandemic mitigation strategies, the Governor ordered schools closed in March 2020. She ended up closing them for the remainder of the school year. Most schools didn’t even commit to online learning until the fall due to the sudden decision.
On March 10, 2020, the State announcement that two cases of COVID-19 had been detected. March 12, Whitmer order schools closed from March 16 to April 5, due to twelve suspected cases of COVID-19. She then decided that schools should remain closed for the rest of the school year.
After schools decided to offer only in-person online instruction or a hybrid approach for the 2020-21 school year, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, an executive branch agency, again order schools closed on November 15, for three weeks. High schools and colleges were prohibited from holding in-person classes.
After the emergency powers invoked by Whitmer were overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court in October 2020in a case filed by the Mackinac Center Legal FoundationWhitmer then issued orders through the state health department.
Whitmer said Friday she “vehemently” disagrees with the court’s ruling, which she says makes Michigan an “exception” among the majority of states that have emergency orders in place.
The governor said even after the Supreme Court’s decision takes effect, his guidelines will remain in place through “other sources of authority.”
It wasn’t until January 2021 that Whitmer announced that schools should resume in-person learning, no later than March 1.
“I strongly encourage districts to provide as much face-to-face learning as possible, and my administration will work closely with them to achieve this,” Whitmer said at the time.
It was only then, a year into the pandemic, that Whitmer decided that the masks and other mitigation strategies put in place by school districts were safe enough for students to return to class.