LEANDER, Texas - An employee at Akin Elementary School has died due to complications connected to COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Akin Elementary School Principal Rebecca Webster wrote a letter informing families that Lillian Gallagher, a member of the school's Child Nutrition Services team, died from complications due to COVID-19.
"Her passing has affected our campus community deeply, as Lillian had a very sweet and caring way towards children and staff alike," Webster wrote.
Webster stated that Gallagher had not worked over the summer and has not been on the school's campus since March. Gallagher had worked at the school for two years.
Webster has also asked the community to respect the privacy of Gallagher's family during this time.
You can read the full letter below:
Dear Akin Elementary School families,
It is with heavy hearts that we write to inform you of the unexpected death of Lillian Gallagher, a valued member of our Child Nutrition Services team for the last two school years. Her passing has affected our campus community deeply, as Lillian had a very sweet and caring way towards children and staff alike.
While we ask you to please respect the privacy of Lillian's family, we know there are concerns regarding health and safety during the current COVID-19 pandemic. We do know she died from complications due to COVID. Mrs.Gallagher was not at work over the summer and has not been on campus since March.
While never easy, the grieving process will be even more difficult as we are not able to physically gather and support each other. Young children often react differently to traumatic events such as this, even if they did not know the individual well. Our school counselor has reminded us that it is important to allow children to express their feelings. We encourage you to do the same and offer these helpful tips for parents provided by the National Association of School Psychologists.
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 try to understand 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 euphemisms are abstract and may be confusing, especially for younger children.
Watch for changes in your child's behavior.
Our school counselor, Beth Lehn, is available as a resource for students. Please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she will set up video or phone opportunities for support, depending on your family's preference.
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. Please reach out to us if you have additional questions or if we can help. We know you join us in our concern and sympathy for the Gallagher family.
With sincere condolences,
Rebecca Webster, Akin Elementary School Principal
Steve Smith, Director of Child Nutrition Services