/ Modified may 24, 2021 10:42 p.m.

Arizona's budget, teen mental health support and school sports

In this week's episode of Arizona 360, the team also discusses COVID-19 updates.

Arizona's legislative session is nearing its close, but first the governor and lawmakers unveiled their plans for next year's budget. Julia Shumway, a Arizona Senate reporter with the Arizona Capitol Times, told AZPM's Christopher Conover that it's not a done deal yet as they still have to nail down some votes in both the House and Senate. Shumway and Conover dove in to analyze the budget issues that still need to be resolved.

They also discussed the Maricopa county vote audit which has been getting so much attention both across the state and the nation.

Ealier this session, lawmakers passed a mandate for school districts to start issuing school identification cards with Teen Lifeline's information on the back in an effort to curb teen suicide.

In 2020, 43 teens in Arizona ended their own lives, and Teen Lifeline is responding by connecting youth who are stressed and overwhelmed with a peer. Arizona 360 host Lorraine Rivera spoke to Nikki Kontz, the clinical director of the lifeline, about what these children and teens are feeling and how to support them.

Student athletes at Walden Grove High School in Sahuarita, Arizona, discussed how a truncated 2020-2021 season impacted those playing football both as students as well as athletes. Head Coach Corey Noble, and students Jason Stevens and Ronnie Berg shared how the pandemic has impacted their seasons and futures.

The athletes have been taking weekly rapid COVID-19 tests in an attempt to catch outbreaks early and keep their return to sports on track.

Ricardo Valerdi is a professor of engineering at the University of Arizona and the UA's faculty athletics representative. He said throughout the pandemic guidelines at different schools lacked any sense of uniformity and there's been a hesitancy to plan longterm, but the NCAA worked with for struggling student athletes to try to blunt the impact.

Valerdi predicted that come August college athletics will have a "somewhat normal academic year," even though some roles and opportunities will still be marked by the pandemic.

Finally, Conover spoke with Dr. Cara Christ, the director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, about the Centers for Disease Control's new masking update and the drivers behind vaccinating children over 12 years old.

She said she encourages people who are unvaccinated to still wear their masks in public. It's vaccinated individuals who can move around in more social situations without wearing a mask.

Her 13-year-old child recently received a shot of the Pfizer vaccine.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.

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