News 4-Emerson College poll: Erie County residents say schools should remain closed through the rest of the 2019-20 school year

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – More than half of those living in Erie County who participated in a News 4 Emerson College poll say New York State schools should remain closed through the rest of the academic year.

Governor Andrew Cuomo initially signed an executive order closing schools across the state effective March 18th. On Monday, he announced schools would remain closed at least through April 29th. The initiative is an attempt to increase social distancing during the coronavirus crisis.

The poll, conducted April 3-5, indicated 50.5% of respondents in Erie County believe the state should close schools through June. Across all of New York State, 47.2% of respondents indicated they think schools should be closed through the academic year.

Niagara Falls City School District Superintendent Mark Laurrie admits with each passing day, it appears more likely that will eventually happen. However, he approves the governor’s plan to make a decision every two weeks.

“Knowing how my own children would react to saying right now that schools are done for the year, it would take a lot of encouragement for them to stay on task to complete the work that’s put before them,” Laurrie said. “So I don’t have a problem with the way the governor is doing it.”

Districts have been forced to provide instruction through alternative methods. The New York State Education Department announced Tuesday they would cancel all Regents exams this June. Students will have the June 2020 Regents exam requirement toward earning their diploma waived, so long as they still complete a Regents course.

“It was the only fair and equitable and good thing to do,” Laurrie said.

Meanwhile, the poll also showed that the plurality of New Yorkers (33.8 percent) believe non-essential businesses should stay closed until after May 16th. However a plurality of respondents in Erie County (35.5 percent) say those businesses should re-open between May 1st and May 15th.

“I think everybody is looking to be responsible, given the current status of the crisis,” said AJ Baynes, President and CEO of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.

Baynes says small businesses are taking advantage of opportunities for relief set up by the government. He said those businesses are trying to be as creative as possible.

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