The Durham District School Board (DDSB) is apologizing to employees after “erroneously” sending out a blast email containing a list of unvaccinated employees and those who have not disclosed their vaccination status.

Documents provided to True North reveal the school board scrambled to urge employees to delete an email sent Wednesday morning containing a spreadsheet with the names, employee numbers and workplace locations of employees who have not provided proof of vaccination to the board. The spreadsheet also noted which employees have medical exemptions from vaccination against COVID-19.

“You received an email this morning on Rapid Testing Requirements,” said a follow-up message sent later Wednesday morning. “The email erroneously contained an attachment that you should not have received and that contains confidential information. Please do not open the attachment. Please delete the email and then delete it from deleted.”

The DDSB said previously it has approximately 800 employees who have identified as unvaccinated or opted not to disclose their status, as required by the provincial government. A formal letter sent out to staff Wednesday said the spreadsheet was sent to 399 employees within that group “through inadvertence.”

“We sincerely apologize for this incident,” said the letter from Heather Mundy, the DDSB’s superintendent of people and culture. “We take our responsibility to protect your information very seriously.”

In a statement to True North, a spokesperson said the school board is taking steps to ensure such an event does not occur again.

“This accident should not have happened and the DDSB has both notified and apologized to the employees impacted by this,” the statement said.”We take our responsibility to protect the personal information of all employees very seriously and sincerely regret that this inadvertent mistake occurred.

Mundy’s letter said the board’s IT department was able to access recipients’ inboxes to delete the email but noted there were “a few incidents where the attachment was opened prior to deletion.”

“We have discussed this incident with DDSB staff involved to ensure there is a clear understanding of the critical importance of verifying that emails do not contain attachments of this nature and of the need to protect this type of information,” she said.

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