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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 28, 2012

SCHUMER: DOZENS OF LONG ISLAND SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND NYC SCHOOLS CANCELLING MIDWINTER BREAK TO MAKE UP FOR SUPERSTORM SANDY; URGES AIRLINES AND CRUISE LINES TO CREDIT OR REFUND FAMILIES WHO MUST CANCEL VACATIONS DUE TO POST-SANDY SCHOOL CALENDAR



Long Island And New York City Public Schools Cancelling Midwinter Vacation Days to Compensate for Lost Class Time After Sandy; Families and Teachers Forced to Cancel Planned Vacations

Parents, Teachers and School District Employees Losing Hundreds or Thousands in Cancellation Fees Or Non-Refundable Deposits

Schumer Calls on Airlines and Cruise Lines to Consider a Special Refund or Credit Plan for Families and Teachers Affected by Superstorm Sandy Who Are Forced to Cancel Upcoming Midwinter Vacation Plans

 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the airline industry and cruise line industry to devise a special Superstorm Sandy credit or refund policy for parents and teachers who must cancel their scheduled vacations due to Superstorm Sandy’s impact on the school calendar. In the wake of the storm, Long Island school districts and New York City schools were forced to close because of the significant impacts throughout the region. Recently, many of these school districts have announced that they are cancelling midwinter breaks to compensate for lost class time and New York City schools are cutting midwinter break by three days. Schumer today called on airline companies and cruise line companies to allow for refunds or credits to parents, teachers and school district employees who may need to cancel their planned vacations because of the new post-Sandy school calendar.

 

“Having to cancel a long planned vacation because of the storm is bad, but being forced to shell out hundreds or thousands in cancellation or change fees is worse,” said Schumer.  “Many businesses in the wake of Hurricane Sandy have stepped up to the plate and gone out of their way to help those affected, and I would urge the travel industry to do their part as well.”

 

"In order that learning is not compromised, our schools are looking to make up for days lost in the aftermath of Storm Sandy", said Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association President James March.  "We support Senator Schumer's appeal to the travel industry to relieve families and educators from any costs for cancellations of travel plans due to changes in the school calendar."  

 

"We appreciate any effort Senator Schumer makes on behalf of school district employees, and parents in our school communities, many of whom suffered personally from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. We do not want to see them incur additional costs because of their commitment to the education of our students,” said Maureen Bright, President of the Nassau County Council of School Superintendents.

 

"In this time of hardship caused by Sandy, it’s only right for airlines, cruise operators and others in the tourism industry to recognize that educators – and other New Yorkers -- should not be financially penalized for an act of nature that was beyond anyone’s control,” said New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi. “We commend Sen. Schumer for his willingness to once again fight for New York’s educators and working families.”

 

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Long Island school districts and New York City schools were forced to close because of the significant impact the storm had on the region, including power outages, unsafe road conditions and damages to schools.  On Long Island, some schools were closed for two or more weeks. Under state law, schools must be in session a minimum of 180 days a year.  The upcoming winter months further complicates the situation as schools may face the possibility of further closures due to inclement weather.

 

Schools must compensate for the missed class days and, as of November 25th, 66 of Long Island’s 123 school districts have announced that they have either cancelled or are considering cancelling all or part of the midwinter break. In New York City, the Department of Education has announced that they will cut the midwinter break by three days. As a result, school district employees and families who have already planned vacations during the midwinter break will need to cancel their plans.

 

Schumer today called on airline companies and cruise line companies to agree to refund or credit those schoolchildren, parents and school faculty who are now forced to cancel their planned vacations during the midwinter break because of the impact Superstorm Sandy had on the school calendar. Schumer explained that many of these individuals have gone through extreme personal and economic difficulties because of the storm and cancelling their planned vacation could amount to hundreds of dollars in additional expenses. Schumer went on to say that these families cannot take any additional financial hardship after Sandy and the airline and cruise line industries should take this into consideration. Schumer is hopeful that these industries will work with the victims of Sandy and allow for them to cancel their vacation plans if necessary.

 

Schumer’s letter can be found below:

 

Nicholas E. Calio

President and CEO

Airlines for America

 

Christine Duffy

President and CEO

Cruise Lines International Association

 

Dear Mr. Calio and Ms. Duffy,

I am writing you today to bring to your attention that, as a result of Superstorm Sandy, schoolchildren, faculty, and their families will be forced to cancel upcoming midwinter break vacation plans. I urge you to commit to work with the victims of the storm as they have to cancel their vacation plans.

A majority of Long Island school districts are likely to cancel midwinter breaks to make up for lost days due to Superstorm Sandy and New York City schools have already announced that they will be cutting the midwinter break by three days. State law requires districts to be in session a minimum of 180 days a year and makeup days cannot be during July, August, or on most legal holidays. The upcoming winter months further complicates the situation as schools may face the possibility of further closures due to inclement weather. This allows for little time for school districts to make up the extensive amount of days lost.

Many of these school children, faculty, and families have gone through extreme personal and economic hardship and I urge you to take into consideration the unique and unpredictable circumstances that these families were forced into by this devastating storm. Thank you for your attention to this important request. Please contact my Washington office at 202-224-6542 with any questions.

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer

U. S. Senator

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