It's enough to give you rug burns.

The Waynewood Elementary School PTA and a local youth sports group are battling the Fairfax County school system over whether the gym's tile floor will be carpeted this summer.

School officials say carpeting makes the county's elementary school gyms more versatile for younger students and quieter for gym teachers. Parents protesting the plan contend that the nylon fabric will cause sports injuries and attract everything from dust mites to errant saliva.

"We want to know how well kids can run on the carpeting; we don't want ambiance and warm bottoms," said PTA Vice President Jane Cole. "I'm sorry that P.E. {physical education} teachers get headaches, but if you're going to be a P.E. teacher, you buy into that, or you teach strings or some quiet literature class."

Last Thursday, the School Board postponed installing the flooring and agreed to study the health aspects of the carpet. School officials are expected to check with government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, and to report to the board next month.

The county has been laying the all-purpose flooring, known as Pro-Gym, in county elementary schools for nine years, and Waynewood's was scheduled to be installed during renovations in August. About 40 of the county's 127 elementary schools have received the product.

"I just wonder if it's something that has become fashionable or God knows what, but they keep on saying it's done in California," said Claudia Fitzgerald, whose daughters attend Waynewood and are active in youth sports. "Apparently, that means it's good, but I don't know how they conclude that."

Earlier this month, about 60 parents came to the office of Supervisor Gerald Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) to protest the plan. Among its biggest critics are the Fort Hunt Youth Athletic Association, which sponsors after-school basketball games at the gym, and the school's PTA, which holds roller skating sessions there.

Opponents say that not only will the flooring be at odds with what gyms are supposed to be -- places to yell and let off steam -- it will aggravate allergies among children, emit fumes and be difficult to keep unsoiled.

"What if a child vomits on the carpet or bleeds; how do you keep it really clean?" asked Claudia Fitzgerald.

The flooring, which is to be installed by Collins & Aikman Corp. of Annandale, is treated with an "anti-microbial agent" that will not wash out and is considered "the best on the market," according to literature from the manufacturer.

The county surveyed gym teachers who teach in the carpeted rooms in April and the results "came out extremely positive," said Alton C. Hlavin, assistant superintendent for facility services.

"You can do the duck walks, the frog walks," Hlavin said of the flooring. "In addition to being the best surface, it also presents a better acoustical quality in the gymnasium."

Among its advantages, the 28 teachers who answered the survey ranked "less noise," "warmth for sitting" and "easier maintenance." As for disadvantages, teachers cited "rug burns," "cleaning problems and sanitation concerns" and "restricted movement for scooters and hockey pucks."

Stephen Fitzgerald, Claudia's husband, coaches youth sports and said the issue goes beyond carpeting.

"It's the failure of the administration to permit parents to have a role in the decision-making process," Fitzgerald said. "It's very hard to understand why on this issue the school administration feels they could not budge an inch."

Hlavin called complaints that the school system has stonewalled the community "bothersome. I think that we have tried to answer their concerns and provide information that we have available to us."

Cole said the group plans to press on with the issue.

"I know it's a big system, I'm sympathetic to that," she said. "Just give us less, that's what we want."