Lower School

Two friends in the lower school hugging and giving the thumbs up.

Last updated: Aug 21
Note: New content in bold

Lower School Principal Karen Balmer

The first day of school has been moved to Monday, August 31.

Minnehaha Academy is implementing a revised plan for our return back to campus. We are offering our students in-person learning in small cohorts. Because of our ability to maximize our facility and faculty, we can accomplish small class sizes with an in-person model; class sizes that are more traditionally achieved in a hybrid model. Check this website frequently for updated information.

A Letter from PrincipaL Balmer 


Preschool Overview

Our Preschool students will spend each day in their classroom with their teacher, teaching assistant, and cohort of peers. Specialist offerings will be in the classroom. Students will eat lunch in their classrooms and enjoy daily time on the playground, weather-permitting.

Preschoolers will be dropped off and picked up at the West Door (near the arena). A Preschool aide will be there to welcome students and to dismiss them.

Note: In the event of a stay at home order or other government-mandated closure, the Preschool program will operate in the school building, similar to daycare programs that will stay open. This will provide care and continuity of programming for our youngest learners.


Lower School Overview

Cohort Learning Model

Students will be assigned to a small cohort, half of the total class size. The cohorts will stay together for the duration of the year. Students will alternate between:

  • A full day in the classroom with their classroom teacher focusing on core content (Reading, Writing, Math).
  • A half day with a teaching assistant and a half day with a specialist.

Learn the details →


Drop Off & Pick Up Procedures

K–5 students will enter through the main doors. Those being dropped off will be asked to stagger their drop off times. (More information forthcoming from Principal Balmer.) Students will go directly to their instructional space. Learn all about our school procedures →

  • Lunch will be eaten as a cohort in their instructional space.
  • Our food service provider, Taher, will offer a lunch each day. Students may also bring their own lunch from home.
  • Nut-free snacks are also permitted in the instructional spaces.


Play and physical movement is an essential component of a child’s development. Outside activities also limit the risk of viral spread. Students will participate in recess every day, weather permitting, with hand washing/sanitizing before and after being on the playground.


Corporate worship remains essential to our identity and we’ll have weekly chapel for the Lower School. In order to adhere to safety guidelines and maximize classroom space, the Lower School will worship virtually gathered in small groups. Classroom time will be dedicated to discussing and deepening our chapel experience at every level.

There will be no large group, corporate singing in Chapel this year.

Social-Emotional Support

Social and emotional connections are more important than ever, and fostering these connections are what makes Minnehaha’s caring community so distinctive. Through morning meetings at the Lower School students connect with one another, and with an adult, to provide guidance and support in academic, spiritual, and personal growth. Students also have the opportunity to meet one-on-one or in groups with the Lower School counselor.

Extended Day

Care before and after school will be provided for children who are preregistered. No drop-in service will be available for this school year. Morning care will be available from 7:00am – 8:15am for students in K–5. No morning care is available for Preschool; they may be dropped off as early as 8:15am and go directly to their classroom. After school care is available from 3:10-6:00pm. Students will be with siblings or classroom cohorts and will social distance. Outdoor activities will be prioritized. Registration for Extended Day will open August 5.


Transportation will be available in Minneapolis and the suburbs in traditional school buses at 50% capacity or less. (Due to social distancing guidelines, no van service will be available.) Riders will be required to wear masks and follow hand sanitizing protocols. Registration for transportation will be available in Skyward.

Additional Information

Get all the extra information you need. From face masks and supply lists to visitor rules and technology implementations. Learn more→

Action Items for Parents

Sign up forms for Skyward, Extended Day, Athletics, and more. We have a few things we need you to look at.

Get Started



Additional Details & Dates
  • Tuesday, August 4: Principal Balmer will share additional details about Lower School plans
  • Wednesday, August 5: Extended Day registration opens
  • Monday, August 10, 8am: Distance learning commitment required from families (if desired)
  • Thursday, August 13: Class placements released in Skyward. Orientation Day registration opens (sign up link will be available in Parent Square)
  • Tuesday, August 25, 8am–4pm: Lower School Orientation Day
  • Wednesday, August 26, 8am–Noon: Lower School Orientation Day

Note: Middle School Orientation Days will be Tuesday, August 25 from Noon–4pm and Wednesday, August 26 from 8am–4pm. 

Lower School is IN-PERSON ✅

Middle School is IN-PERSON ✅

Upper School is IN-PERSON ✅

When to Stay Home

Students and faculty must not come to school if they display any symptoms or come into close contact with COVID-19. Please use our decision tree when determining whether or not to come to school.*

*MA follows guidelines from the MN Health Department for reporting contagious illnesses, please let the school know if your child has a contagious illness or if your family has had close-contact exposure to COVID-19.

[T]he partnership between home and school ... elevates our trusted relationship to a higher level.

Rev. Dr. Donna Harris, PresidentLetters from the President