NINE public schools in Cebu City will have to use school buildings that still lack safety features, like emergency exits, when classes start today.

Cebu City’s Local School Board (LSB) promised to finish these features by the middle of June.

“We’re working on this with urgency because every day that this project gets delayed is an accident waiting to happen,” LSB chief Raddy Diola said.

Mayor Michael Rama instructed the LSB to finish all emergency exits before classes start, after a magnitude 4.9 earthquake hit Cebu last April, some 18 months after a powerful M7.2 quake shook Cebu and Bohol.

Rama had emphasized that schools should have emergency exits so students and staff can leave safely and quickly during fires or quakes.

Diola said the construction of safety features in these schools was delayed because most of the contractors waited for the notice to proceed from the City.

“I already had a meeting with the contractors and told them that they need to finish it before June, but most of them chose to wait for the notice to proceed,” he said.

These nine public schools are the Inayawan Elementary School, Pardo Elementary School, Mambaling Elementary School, Mabolo Elementary School, Don Vicente Rama Memorial Elementary School, Lahug Elementary School, Don Vicente Rama Memorial National High School, Bulacao National High School and Basak Community High School.

The City has set aside more than P30 million from its Special Education Fund last year for the construction of emergency exits in 40 public elementary and secondary schools.

The 31 other schools already have their emergency exits since the construction started in August last year.

Emergency exits are particularly crucial in three- or four-storey school buildings that, for now, have only one staircase each.