Varnish fumes caused classes to be canceled today as Burnside Elementary School closed early. Most students were bused back home, and those who couldn't go home were sent to the Sunnyside Elementary School gym, Supt. Stan Slessor said.

"Over the weekend we applied a coat of varnish to the gym floor and then ventilated the school," Slessor said, adding that the closure was due to "a problem with the varnish odor not being fully exhausted even though we had the exhaust fans on over the weekend."

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When staff reported to work Monday morning, many found the varnish fumes difficult to deal with and it was decided at 8:45 a.m. to close Burnside, Slessor said.

When students arrived at the school, they went to their classrooms and were asked whether they would be able to get into their homes if they were bused back. In all, students were in the school for about 30 to 40 minutes, Slessor said. Staff were in the building for about two and a half hours before it closed at 10:30 a.m.

Slessor said he thought classes would be able to resume Tuesday.

He said that although varnishing the gym floor is usually a project for a longer weekend, school staff applied a coat last weekend because they believed there would be time for the fumes to clear.

"Based on everything we knew we thought that it would be exhausted by Monday but it wasn't," Slessor said.

There's still one more coat of varnish to be applied in the gym, and Slessor said that will be done over the Christmas holiday.