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Illness forces Memphis school to close for the rest of the week

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A Memphis school is cancelling classes for the rest of the week due to illness.

Parents of students at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School were told Tuesday night classes are cancelled until next Monday.

Now, many parents are now left scrambling to find childcare.

“Parents are concerned," said Catholic Diocese Communications Director Suzanne Aviles. "They have three days that they have to make adjustments in their schedules in order to take care of their children while they’re at home, but overall parents are pretty happy. The decision is made to protect their children.”

More than 100 students and staff have been absent – most are suffering from the flu, strep and a stomach virus – according to Aviles.

“With a population of a little over 500 students in the school, that’s a large percentage with potential for getting even worse," she said.

The Shelby County Health Department says it’s looking into the outbreak.

Parents found out through an automated phone call and a post on the school’s Facebook page after Superintendent Janet Donato made the call to keep kids and employees home so the viruses don’t continue to spread.

"Due to the broad range of illnesses effecting [sic] our students, staff, and faculty, we have been advised by the Superintendent to close SFA Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week to prevent the further spread of illness," the Facebook post reads.

This isn't the first Tennessee school to close recently over illness.

Nearly a dozen districts in East Tennessee have also cancelled classes over the past two weeks after Norovirus and flu outbreaks.

"There’s been a wave of having to close schools" said Aviles. "This has been a really hard flu season."

All activities on the campus are also cancelled.

A professional cleaning company will be brought in to make sure the germs are gone when the campus re-opens on Monday.

Parents have been told the days will not have to be made up.

The health department recommends getting a flu shot – if you haven’t already – and washing your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs.