The Provo Missionary Training Center is implementing increased COVID-19 protocols after 91 of 588 full-time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints training there recently tested positive.
“After several missionaries tested positive earlier this week, all 588 missionaries in the Provo MTC were tested, and a total of 91 tested positive,” said Church spokesman Sam Penrod in a statement released Thursday, Dec. 30.
“Of the missionaries who tested positive, few have reported being symptomatic or feeling ill.”
The Provo MTC resumed in-person training in June, with precautions and COVID-19 protocols helping to keep cases to a minimum. Precautions include requiring all missionaries to be fully vaccinated before arrival and available testing of those training in the MTC, Penrod said.
“The Provo MTC continues to operate at a reduced capacity, and so there are ample facilities to isolate those who are negative and quarantine those who are positive,” he added.
“Additional protocols are now in place involving procedures in the cafeteria and gymnasium. Face coverings will be worn indoors during all classes, meetings and devotionals.”
Also, missionaries will not travel to their assigned missions unless they are negative for COVID-19 or have completed all necessary quarantine periods, and new arriving missionaries will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test when they report on Wednesdays.
MTCs reopening in 2021
On June 23, the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, welcomed new missionaries for the first time in 14 months after the Church in March 2020 closed all 10 MTCs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ghana and New Zealand MTCs reopened within days; the other MTCs followed throughout the next five months.
New missionary training then moved to a new phased approach of training for most new missionaries — the first third is still done online in the missionaries’ homes and the last two-thirds continuing on-site in one of 10 MTCs worldwide.
With MTCs resuming on-site training, the phased approach of training allows missionaries to continue to experience many of the positive elements of online training realized during the pandemic period of training new missionaries.
Online training continues to originate from the MTCs worldwide, with missionaries meeting — via videoconferencing — their companions, instructors and other new missionaries in classroom groups or “districts.”
By the end of 2021, all 10 MTCs worldwide had opened and language options had expanded; however, the New Zealand MTC remains paused as of late December because of local pandemic precautions.
Some missionaries worldwide are still training only online because of personal choices with vaccinations, mission-location assignments being affected by travel restrictions and COVID-19 precautions, and limited on-site operations and language offerings at the MTCs.