Pepper spray may be what caused an odor at Linden High School that caused a hazmat team to be brought in and school to be dismissed early, the school district said.

Several workers in the school's cafeteria became sick on Thursday morning, and the Linden Fire Deptartment recommended an evacuation of the school pending tests by the Union County Hazardous Materials team, the school district said.

Students and staff were moved to an athletic field and were dismissed for the day at 11 a.m. NJ Advance Media reported the number of affected workers as 19.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Danny A. Robertozzi told the newspaper school had to be closed because there was no way to serve students lunch.

The hazmat team determined the school to be safe at 1 p.m. According to the school district, the fire department reported workers may have breathed in pepper spray, but it had dissipated and was not detectable in the air.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Danny A. Robertozzi said the school will be open as usual on Friday. He commended the response of fire, police and hazmat teams and the conduct of students.

"Students are also to be commended for acting quickly and responsibly during this situation," Robertozzi said.

Sign up for the NJ1015.com Newsletter

Get the best of NJ1015.com delivered to your inbox every day.