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AM News Brief: Teacher retention, a planet with three stars & the governor’s campaign manager resigns

Misaligned rings in planet-forming disk around triple stars.
Courtesy National Radio Astronomy Observatory
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Astronomers from the University of Nevada Las Vegas recently discovered what could be the first known planet to orbit three different stars. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Friday morning, Oct. 8, 2021

State

Governor’s campaign manager resigns amidst investigation

Gov. Spencer Cox said an investigation found his 2020 campaign manager sexually harassed a former campaign employee. The outside investigation found Austin Cox, who is not related to the Governor, also acted in a hostile way toward some other members of the team. In a statement, the governor said Austin Cox resigned before the investigation was completed. Gov. Cox said he and the lieutenant governor “were devastated to learn of this abuse of trust and condemn this kind of behavior in the strongest terms.” — Sonja Hutson

Schools in ‘triage’ over student mental health 

Student mental health needs have been growing for years, but with the stresses of the pandemic and increased awareness of the issue, schools are reaching a tipping point. Jayci Hacker, student care director at Southern Utah University, said last year the counseling center saw a 400% increase in the number of students seeking help. About a third of them required treatment for serious challenges like eating disorders, suicidal ideation and psychosis. K-12 schools are reporting similar strains and limited resources. While federal COVID relief funds are helping to hire temporary support staff, the funds can only be spent until 2024. Some officials hope that seeing the impact of additional help will help make the case that more funding is needed in the future. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Southern Utah

Washington County leads in teacher retention

More teachers in Utah are staying in their jobs according to data from the state Board of Education. During a meeting Thursday, state superintendent Sydnee Dickson said the Washington County School District has the highest retention rate in the state. Almost 73% of their teachers stay after five years while the state average is nearly 60%. Dickson said the higher rate in Washington County is due to strong support for teachers and mentoring opportunities. She said the retention rate for first year teachers statewide was over 90% last year — the highest it's been since before 2012. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Testing highway stripes

The Utah Department of Transportation is testing out 100 different types of lane stripes in Northern Utah. They’ll be spread across 3 miles on I-84 with the goal of figuring out which option offers the best visibility and is the most durable. The samples will be in place for 3 years. UDOT engineers will check on the stripes every month, and then the department will make a final decision. — Martha Harris

Region/Nation

One planet, three stars

Astronomers from the University of Nevada Las Vegas recently discovered what could be the first known planet to orbit three different stars. They made the find after studying images from a powerful telescope. Researchers spotted a gap in the rings of dust around the three stars, suggesting a Jupiter-like planet is there. The team plans to further analyze images of the star system to see if they can find direct evidence of the planet. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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