There is only one school in the Earth’s coldest permanently inhabited living settlement of Oymyakon, Yakutia, and it keeps functioning even in the blistering cold.
Lessons start at 9am when it is still dark, as the December sun only rises an hour later, and finish at 5pm when it is also dark with a sunset at 2:15pm.
The school, built in 1932 and named after the local merchant and patron Nikolay Krivoshapkin, serves Oymyakon and two nearby villages, Khara Tumul and Bereg Yurde.
‘Local kids walk to school with their parents and often with dogs, too; pupils from other villages have to take a bus to get here. The bus ride takes from 10 to 18 minutes’, said local photographer Semyon Sivtsev who took the pictures and video for The Siberian Times.
‘I was filming around 9am on 8 December, and the temperature was -51C.
‘How cold did it feel? I had to keep my gloves on which wasn’t very comfortable, but otherwise, my fingers would have been frostbitten, and I could only film in very short bursts’, he said.
There is a cut-off mark of -52C for children aged 7 to 10 (Year One to Year Four in the Russian school system), when they are allowed to stay home.
The school stops working for older pupils, too, when air temperature plummets to -56C.
Oymyakon is different in how it arranges winter school days from the Republic of Sakha’s capital city Yakutsk.
There, classes for primary age pupils (ages from 7 to 11) are canceled at -45C without wind, or at -42C to -44C depending on the force of the wind.
Older pupils won’t go to school at -48C without wind, or -45C to -47С depending on the wind.
Classes for pupils of all ages in all schools of Yakutsk are canceled at -50C.