Students across B.C. are heading back to school in two weeks, and for thousands in Metro Vancouver that means returning to buildings that could collapse in a major earthquake.

King George Secondary in Vancouver, Argyle Secondary in North Vancouver and Cascade Heights Elementary in Burnaby are just three of more than 100 schools in the region at high risk of earthquake damage.

Dr. Carlos Ventura of the University of British Columbia’s Earthquake Engineering Research Facility said the schools are “potentially very dangerous to people,” particularly the 36 that are classified as H1, the highest risk level.

“They are really a concern from an engineering point of view,” Ventura said. “The longer you wait the risk keeps increasing.”

But the schools haven’t been approved for seismic upgrades, a process critics want to see expedited as soon as possible by the provincial government.

The high cost of upgrades means that call may be ignored, however. B.C. now estimates it will take 15 years to bring all schools in the province up to code.

That’s longer than originally promised; in 2005, the provincial government pledged to make all schools seismically safe by 2020.

On Monday, the Ministry of Education told CTV News it has made significant progress on the problem.

“To date, we have invested more than $2.2 billion to complete 146 projects with another 24 in a stage of construction and 44 in various stages of planning,” Minister Mike Bernier said in a statement.

The opposition NDP said the remaining work should still be sped up.

“The finance minister and the premier should look at the balance sheet of government. There’s never been a cheaper time to borrow,” education critic Rob Fleming said.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Shannon Paterson