NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The flu season is hitting North Texas hard. Three catholic schools closed in one week because of the exceptionally high number of students and faculty infected.

While students are back in class at Bishop Lynch High School today, one other school in East Dallas remains closed.

Two words describe how administrators at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School are dealing with possible contamination and the large number of absences — deep cleaning. The school is expected to reopen on Tuesday.

In all, the total numbers from last week had 11-percent of students at St. Thomas Aquinas and Bishop Lynch absent because of the flu.

Students at Bishop Lynch had a four-day weekend after a spike in flu cases last week. Many St. Thomas Aquinas students have siblings that attend Bishop Lynch and Jesuit College Prep, so it’s likely the illnesses spread through families.

Dr. Matthew Vereecke, the superintendent for catholic schools in the Dallas Diocese, says the health department is called when at least 10-percent of students are out sick.

“During those periods we go through and we make sure we’re follow sanitation protocol, they’re wiping down every desk, they’re wiping down all the door knobs, They’re making sure that everybody is going to be is healthy when they come back,” he said. “The break also gives people a chance to make sure the virus can run its course, so that they’re not bringing infected kids back to school.”

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(credit: Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of people going in to see a doctor for flu-like illness is increasing, and that by the end of last week, more than six-percent of all people who went to clinics and emergency rooms had influenza-like illness.

The CDC says this season’s epidemic is on track to rival the 2014-15 flu season. That year, the CDC estimates 34 million Americans got the flu. More than 700,000 were hospitalized.  About 56,000 died.

At least 37 children have been killed by the flu this season and CDC officials expect flu-related pediatric deaths could reach record highs.

When most people think about taking steps to prevent the flu at their homes they think of wiping down countertops and changing out toothbrushes. But health officials say people should also be mindful of the condition of their winter gear.

Health experts say gloves are hotbeds for germs and should be washed every four weeks. Your scarf, which is constantly touching your face and hair, should be washed once a month. As for your heavy coat, experts say you should clean it at least three times during the season and of course make sure it’s washed before you put it away at the end of the season.

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