HURLEY, Mo. — A new sign outside Hurley R-1 has many families talking. The sign informs families that staff may be armed and will use whatever force necessary to protect staff and students.

“In October of 2018 we passed a board policy following Missouri protocols for school protection officers that would allow staff members to carry and follow some very strict protocols,” Superintendent Dr. Allison Pope said. “This is probably the first opportunity where we have an open book.”

Once the board implemented the policy in 2018, Pope said staff weren’t certified right away. It’s taken the district until this year to have more than one staff member certified to carry. In an effort to keep their school safety plan intact, the district is not sharing the number of staff who are certified.

“School safety is a primary concern of parents,” Pope said. “We wanted to implement this and we wanted to put that information out there to let them know that we hear their concerns.”

The purpose behind the policy is to keep everyone safe in the event of an active shooter. Certified staff go through two weeks of training and must attend other monthly and annual training to keep their certification.

“The staff who are certified, I trust them with all of our safety concerns that we have here and they are more than capable… of having a weapon and being able to use it properly,” Teacher Laci Maxwell said. She started her second year of teaching at Hurley R-1. “We’re not immune because we’re a small town. I think taking every precaution to prevent something as awful and as unimaginable is the only way to do it.”

The district said no one is required to become certified to carry. Anyone interested could talk to administrators about becoming certified. Hurley R-1 has also implemented other safety measures in their schools, like extra security cameras, new doors and locks, and additional training.

“We take the safety of our kids very seriously, but we also take gun safety seriously,” Pope said.

Hurley R-1 has just under 200 students. The district said this policy is something that works for their small district.

“I know that if we were happened to have someone come in, it would be automatic,” Parent Allie Lumpkin said. “We wouldn’t have anybody stepping back waiting and it would be taking care of our kids.”

The district hopes by informing the community and putting out a sign will help deter someone from thinking about hurting staff or students.