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DENVER (KDVR) — As students return to in-person learning at Cheltenham Elementary school in Denver, a familiar face is missing at the front door. Luz Melillo, 56, passed away from COVID-19 over the weekend, just days after contracting the virus. 

“It has been very hard,” says her son Joey Melillo. “It was very sudden.”

Melillo had been working remotely, so Denver Public Schools is not concerned about contact with students. 

Still, the impact on the Cheltenham community has been heavy.

“I’ve seen a couple of people and they’re heartbroken,” says Stephanie Melillo. “Still in disbelief, shock, it’s a huge impact on a lot of people.”

Melillo’s family says she started showing symptoms, including shortness of breath, last week. 

“When they got to the hospital, to the ER, they grabbed her and brought her in. But from what I hear, by that time, she was already gone,” says Joey. 

Melillo’s children say she had worked in the DPS system for more than 20 years, and loved her job as a secretary. 

“She loved it, inside and out,” says Joey. “Wherever she went, she always had a positive impact on everybody.”

An account has been set up to help pay for memorial costs.