RIESEL (FOX 44) — Riesel Independent School District adopted the Guardian Program for the 2022-23 school year, allowing qualified teachers to carry an armed weapon.

District officials say this is one of many measures they added to the district to ensure staff and students stay safe in case an intruder comes into the campus.

As students return to school, safety has been on the mind of many parents. Visitors must enter through the front of the campus where cameras have been installed and check in with the front desk. Exterior doors must remain locked at all times.

“Unfortunate that we’re even discussing arming educators to go to school, but that’s the time and place and ultimate safety is number one. And that’s what it takes. And that’s what we’re going to do here,” says Riesel ISD Superintendent Brandon Cope.

Riesel also recently added signs on their campuses to let everyone know their staff is armed and will do whatever it takes to protect the staff and students inside the building.

“We want to let people be aware, you know, we’re not trying to be boastful and arrogant about it. We just want people to know that we do have arm staff. And if a threat is posed, we’re going to respond with the right approach, right measure,” says Cope.

Since Brandon Cope became superintendent in 2019, he says they hired a district police chief, who brought safety improvement ideas to the district, such as the guardian program.

“I do daily check with them and make sure that they’re properly maintaining their equipment and secure in their equipment and concealing their weapons,” says Riesel ISD Police Chief D.L Wilson.

After seeing the mass tragedy at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Riesel ISD wants to make sure a tragedy like that won’t happen. Riesel ISD will work alongside other law agencies to get familiar with each campus.

“We use a 9-1-1 system. So we’re going to make sure that they have a program to know what our unit, our building numbers are and our classroom numbers,” says Wilson.

The district has been focusing on access points. A local contractor donated a locking mechanism for each door.

“If someone comes in the teacher just drops a little lock in place you can open the door from the inside or outside,” says Cope.

Superintendent Brandon Cope hopes to get more teachers on the guardian program in the near future.