The New Jersey public teachers union has canceled its annual convention for the first time in 158 years because of Sandy.

New Jersey Education Association President Barbara Keshishian (center) (Facebook)

The convention had been scheduled for next Thursday and Friday in Atlantic City.

New Jersey Education Association President Barbara Keshishian
says the decision to cancel was made because of the statewide impact of the unprecedented storm.

“Our primary concern is the safety and well-being of everyone in Atlantic City, and everyone planning to attend our convention this year,” Keshishian said.  “Because we are a statewide organization, and public schools across the state have been grappling with the impact of Sandy all week long, we have to consider the feasibility of holding this event in a broader context.  Like Atlantic City, New Jersey’s school districts need time to recover and regroup from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy,” Keshishian said.

She also cited the "tens of thousands of people" that would take to the roads to attend as recovery efforts continue across the state.

Atlantic City sustained substantial damage from Sandy. The city's casinos remain closed even though they say their damage was minimal.

The union is looking for ways that its members can contribute to Atlantic City's cleanup and recovery.

Keshishian said the NJEA Convention would be back next year, “bigger and stronger than ever, and we look forward to a long and productive relationship with the great people of Atlantic City.”

Tens of thousands typically attend the annual gathering.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.