New Jersey’s teachers won’t gather in Atlantic City for their annual convention for the first time in 158 years.
The damage left behind by Sandy forced the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) to cancel its Nov. 8-9 conference at the shore town.
NJEA said its convention is the largest gathering of its kind worldwide, and the sheer size helped make the final decision to cancel.
“The NJEA Convention is a massive event, involving tens of thousands of people,” NJEA President Barbara Keshishian said. “We concluded it was simply not advisable to try to have that many people on the roads and using public transportation while so many communities are struggling to restore power and basic services to their residents – including NJEA members.”
NJEA’s convention is not only an annual event for teachers, but a two-day break from school for millions of New Jersey students. Sandy shut down the state’s schools for two days this week, and many other districts had to stayed closed for longer because of damage to schools and power outages.
Keshishian vowed that NJEA would return next year to Atlantic City, whose famed boardwalk took a pounding, along with massive flooding and power outages. Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City.
In the meantime, Keshishian said NJEA is exploring ways for its members, leaders and staff to contribute to and assist in the city’s cleanup and recovery.
NJEA wants “to assist in helping this historic city rebuild and recover. Accordingly, we have reached out to area officials to ascertain how we may be of the greatest assistance,” Keshishian said. “People in Atlantic City are hurting, and we genuinely want to help them in whatever ways we can.”