A nutrition services employee at Woodbridge Middle School died last weekend from COVID-19.
In an email sent to Woodbridge Middle families on Monday, principal Angela Owens said Flor De Luz Cervantes had been on medical leave since Jan. 27.
Cervantes, a mother of four, died Feb. 21, a family friend said in a GoFundMe launched to help her family with expenses. School officials have not said where she may have contracted the virus. No outbreak at Woodbridge Middle has been reported to the Virginia Department of Health.
The news comes days before Prince William County schools begin returning students to classrooms, starting Thursday and Friday with fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth grades.
Cervantes was hardworking, respectful and positive, friends and family said.
“While it is easy to replace an employee, it will not be easy to replace what she brought to her Woodbridge Middle School cafeteria family,” the GoFundMe said.
At Woodbridge Middle, Owens said the critical incident team is available to help any staff or students in coping with their sadness, and that she is in touch with Cervantes' family to offer support.
"This is a difficult time for our school community, but Woodbridge students and staff will support each other as we deal with this loss," Owens wrote.
Cervantes is the second COVID-19 death of a county schools employee. In January, Dinora Mejia, a beloved custodian at Potomac View Elementary School in Woodbridge, after being on medical leave for more than a month. Her daughter also died of the virus. School officials said they don't believe she contracted the virus at school.