It’s a ‘snow-day’ without any snow. Schools throughout the northern Greek township of Naoussa are closed as of today due to lack of funds for heating, with cold weather forecast for at least the rest of the week.
According to the official announcement made by the municipality, the mayor of Naoussa, Anastasis Karabatzos, decided to close the schools, “… due to problems heating school buildings which are the result of lack of funds and a worsening of weather conditions with a sharp drop in temperatures.”
Northern areas in Greece frequently experience freezing temperatures throughout the winter with regular snowfall, particularly in mountainous areas. The Greek meteorological service has forecast that temperatures will reach a low of -2 and a high of 11 degrees celsius for the rest of the week in the town of Naoussa, with temperatures significantly lower at higher elevations.
According to protothema.gr, the mayor said that schools only receive approximately 400 euros a month to pay electricity, phone and heating oil bills, as well as purchase school supplies. This means they can only afford to heat schools for a few days each month.
Today parents, pupils and teachers held a demonstration in the town of Naoussa, protesting the school closures and demanding adequate funding for schools.
Meanwhile students at the Aristoteleio University of Thessaloniki (AUT) also face the prospect of studying in freezing cold temperatures this winter, as planned cutbacks implemented by the government in order to reduce the number of state sector employees (as demanded by the country’s lenders) threaten to leave the institution without anyone to operate its heating systems.
A letter written by one of the technical staff currently employed at the University claimed that if the plan went ahead the University would simply be left without any heating. It said:
“My name is Giorgos Karagatsidis and I am a permanent employee at AUT… appointed as a Boiler Technician. I am responsible for the operation and maintenance of not only the central boiler, but almost all of the heating substations as well as 15 other peripheral heating oil boilers. I am the only boiler technician and I am in saddened to inform you that… I will be placed in the mobility scheme together with the rest of the technical crew of AUT.
Together with me, two other colleagues, natural gas technicians… will be included in the mobility scheme. Together they are responsible for 40 natural gas boilers [as well as other critical machinery]. This means that from the day we leave the heating will cease to work across the AUT campus”.
The letter was initially posted on a website run by the University’s research and academic staff representatives.