Fourteen months after closing its 10 missionary training centers worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is preparing to reopen three teaching facilities for new missionaries, leaders announced in a news release Monday.
In a phased and cautious approach that adds on-site training to its online teaching, the Provo, Ghana and New Zealand MTCs look to invite a small number of missionaries to train on location beginning in late June.
Opening dates will be evaluated weekly and may be adjusted to local circumstances and guidelines from local health officials.
Since the pandemic closures in late March 2020, the Church has moved to online training — often referred to as “home MTC” — to train more than 30,000 new missionaries. The online training originated from the Church’s 10 MTCs worldwide, with missionaries meeting in classroom groups — or “districts” — with online instructors, many of whom have been at the MTCs for the streamed training via videoconferencing technology.
As MTCs resume on-site training, most new missionaries will begin their training online at home, then travel to an MTC for the remainder of their training. The phased approach allows missionaries to continue to experience many of the positive elements of online training that have been realized during the pandemic period of training new missionaries.
Also, the online training of new missionaries is expected to move to a Monday start, from the traditional mid-week arrivals at MTCs that continued as a starting time for new missionaries beginning their online training.
“These plans for on-site MTC training have been carefully considered, and protocols will be in place to ensure a safe environment and experience for new missionaries before they leave to their assigned area of service,” said the news release.
Among the guidelines to apply to those invited to train onsite:
- Negative COVID-19 tests will be required prior to a missionary arriving at an MTC, and such tests will be administered to any missionary exhibiting symptoms during his or her MTC stay.
- For a time, only missionaries from the United States not learning a new language will receive on-site training at the Provo MTC. As conditions continue to improve, other missionaries will be invited to receive training there as the on-site program expands.
- As an initial temporary precaution, only missionaries who have been fully vaccinated will be eligible to train at the Provo MTC, which will start with inviting approximately 150 to 250 new missionaries each week.
- For missionary training centers outside the United States, only local missionaries will be invited to train on-site, beginning with a capacity of approximately 50 in each location. For now, missionaries from the U.S. will not be training at these MTCs.
- Along with their local leaders, new missionaries will be contacted directly if they are invited to train on-site at an open MTC. Unless contacted, new missionaries will continue with online training.
All missionary training centers have remained operational during the pandemic, and MTCs in other areas will resume in-person training as conditions allow.
The number of on-site missionaries is expected to expand gradually as COVID-19 conditions continue to improve.