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Primary children, meetings and activities the focus as Utah Area updates its COVID-19 safety measures

Bishop Barry Port of the Covenant Hills Ward in the Mission Viejo California Stake visits with his daughter and some of the ward Primary kids from his home office. Many bishops have been continuing their duties using technology during the COVID-19 pandemi Credit: Alan Gibby, for the Church News
Bishop Barry Port of the Covenant Hills Ward in the Mission Viejo California Stake visits with his daughter and some of the ward Primary kids from his home office. Many bishops have been continuing their duties using technology during the COVID-19 pandemi Credit: Alan Gibby, for the Church News

Mindful that Latter-day Saint children have been without Primary meetings and activities for nearly a year, the Utah Area Presidency has updated its COVID-19 safety measures with specific instructions about the Primary program detailed in a Feb. 12 letter sent to local Church leaders in the area.

The latest update has a four-fold focus — baptisms for young children, home-centered Primary learning activities, teachers and leaders staying connected with children, and possible new options for meetings, activities and other interactions.

“We are truly thankful for the efforts of Primary leaders and parents who provide a home-centered gospel learning experience and other activities with the support of Church leaders and resources,” wrote the presidency, which is comprised of Elder Craig C. ChristensenElder Evan A Schmutz and Elder Walter F. González.

They also asked leaders to pay close attention to children “whose parents struggle with temporal and spiritual challenges.”

The Feb. 12 letter comes less than two weeks after the Utah Area Presidency updated its COVID-19 safety measures and returned to its September 2020 guidelines for Church meetings and activities in the area.

While Latter-day Saints wait for the return of second-hour Sunday Primary classes and of activities, the area presidency offers the following recommendations for Primary leaders, parents and children:

  • BAPTISMS: Stake and ward leaders are to increase the focus on preparing children for baptism soon after their 8th birthdays. Under the direction of a member of the bishopric and with a focus on the simplicity and purity of the ordinance, baptismal services will likely be limited to family and close friends, with others able to view the services remotely via technology.
  • HOME-CENTERED PRIMARY: Parents and family members are encouraged to provide home-centered gospel learning activities, with the support of Primary leaders and using Church resources such as The Friend magazine; Come, Follow Me — for Primary; Children’s Songbook and activity ideas from the Children and Youth program. Leaders and parents with their children are asked to watch the Primary general presidency video message “Create Primary Experiences at Home.”

  • STAY CONNECTED: Primary leaders and teachers are encouraged to remain connected with all Primary children, using all available options such as virtual contact, letters, text messages, home deliveries and safe in-person visits. “Leaders should counsel together and ask what they can do, rather than what they cannot do in these circumstances,” the letter reads.
  • CURRENT OPTIONS: Under the direction of stake presidents and bishops, stake and ward leaders are asked to counsel together and seek new options and times — including weekdays — to conduct virtual or in-person Primary classes, singing times and activities. All in-person gatherings are if local conditions and health guidelines permit and where appropriate safety protocols — such as masking and distancing — can be maintained.

“We express gratitude for your attentive care and dedicated service,” the presidency concludes in the letter. “As we continue to counsel with senior leaders of the Church and as conditions in the Utah Area improve, we will continue to support your efforts with additional modifications to these and other guidelines.”

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