LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — The Leander Independent School District announced Wednesday that one of its employees at Akin Elementary School died “from complications due to COVID.”

The announcement, posted by Principal Rebecca Webster and Director of Child Nutrition Services Steve Smith, says Lillian Gallagher was a member of the child nutrition services team for the last two years.

“Her passing has affected our campus community deeply, as Lillian had a very sweet and caring way towards children and staff alike,” the announcement said.

Webster and Smith wrote that Gallagher wasn’t at work over the summer and hasn’t been on campus since March.

Gallagher’s family says they are appreciative of the medical team who took care of her and are thankful for the support. They say they pray everyone takes precautions to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The school said Counselor Beth Lehn will be available to speak with affected students. Anyone can set up a video or phone call by emailing her at beth.lehn@leanderisd.org.

The school also provided tips for handling the grieving process with children:

  • Provide opportunities to express thoughts and feelings about death through play activities and drawing.
  • Answer questions using concrete descriptions, and be prepared for repeated questions. Older students may ask more detailed questions to process what happened.
  • Some children may feel less comfortable showing feelings and seeing expressions of grief in others. Make sure to provide these students with a variety of ways to express grief.
  • Use words like “death,” “die,” or “dying” in your conversations and avoid euphemisms such as “they went away,” “they are sleeping,” “departed” and “passed away.” Such phrases are abstract and may be confusing, especially for younger children.
  • Watch for changes in your child’s behavior.

“We understand there will be a variety of emotions and responses to Mrs. Gallagher’s passing. The most important thing we can do is to be supportive and encourage the open expression of feelings,” the announcement read.

The school year has already started off rocky for Leander ISD, which experienced tech issues on the first day of virtual learning. The district had to cancel two days of classes for high school students Thursday and Friday of last week.