Citing the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, the New Jersey teachers' union announced Thursday it was canceling its convention set for next week in Atlantic City.

An autumn feature in the resort for many years, the New Jersey Education Association convention draws up to 50,000 people and bills itself as the largest educational gathering of its kind in the world. It has never been canceled in its 158-year history, the union said.

The cancellation leaves public school districts throughout the state with a decision to make: whether to open schools next Thursday and Friday, when they would have closed for the convention, a move that would make up for at least two days lost to Sandy.

Keshishian said the union was exploring ways for its leaders, staff, and members to assist in Atlantic City's recovery.

"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 in a statement.

"The NJEA convention is a massive event, involving tens of thousands of people," she 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."