The Durham District School Board (DDSB) in Durham, Ontario, Canada has apologized after accidentally sharing the names of staff members who are not vaccinated or who refused to disclose their immunization status. The names were shared with a group of nearly 400 people.
The accident happened on January 5. That day, the board accidentally sent a “routine email” regarding staff members who had complied with a directive to get a rapid COVID-19 test.
The email inadvertently featured a spreadsheet that contained information on around 800 employees who were not vaccinated or who had not disclosed their immunization status.
The school district, which employs nearly 10,000 people, has a policy that allows unvaccinated staff members to continue working as long as they submit proof of negative COVID-19 rapid tests.
Once the board realized their mistake, they reportedly “took immediate action” to recall the email.
“This incident should not have happened and we have notified, apologized and followed up on the approximately 800 employees who were affected,” DDSB Director of Education Norah Marsh wrote in an e-mail. email to staff, The Toronto Star reported.
“The trust of our employees is very important to us and we know that with this incident we have failed,” the apology email continued. “The DDSB is committed to doing everything possible to ensure that a similar incident does not happen again in the future.”
The DDSB statement on the incident mentioned the importance of protecting the private health information of others. The board has since provided additional training on secure documents to its staff. The DDSB is also reviewing what additional security measures might be needed to ensure that staff members handle similar information properly.
As of January 9, approximately 2,419 people in Ontario have been placed in local hospitals due to COVID-19, Durham Radio News reported. Among them, 412 were placed in intensive care unit and 226 of them were placed on ventilators.
On the same day, the province reported 11,959 new cases of COVID-19.
However, because people with symptoms are not always tested publicly or present to hospitals, and because people may have asymptomatic COVID-19 that is never diagnosed, the number of new cases is likely under. – estimated, Public Health Ontario told the aforementioned media outlet.
“The dramatic increase in the number of cases linked to the new, highly contagious variant of Omicron is straining our already strained hospital system,” Dr. Dan Ricciuto wrote in a Jan. 7 column for the Durham Region, a local publication.
“Over the past two weeks, COVID-19 positive cases have increased exponentially,” Ricciuto added. “Every day we see increasing disability for our hospitals across Ontario, and here in [the] Durham Region, to meet anticipated demand, ”he added.
Ricciuto and provincial public health officials have advised others to get vaccinated, as it reduces the severity of symptoms and the likelihood of hospitalization.