ST. PAUL (LEARFIELD) – Higher education leaders are facing challenges as the fall school year begins amid COVID-19.

Leaders from several higher learning institutions, including private schools, the Minnesota State System and the University of Minnesota, addressed state lawmakers on Tuesday

Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra says safety is on everyone’s mind right now.

“We all know that safety is on the minds of our students, parents, faculty, staff and campus leadership at every community we serve,” said Malhotra. “We have continued to stay focused on two guiding principles, the safety of our campus communities and giving students a path to continue their educational journey.”

Malhotra says for five months he’s been trying to answer the safety questions.

“I wish I could guarantee, 100 percent, everyone’s safety who comes to our campuses, however, what we can guarantee is that we will mitigate risks based on guidance from the CDC and MDH,” said Malhotra.

University leaders from several schools also addressed lawmakers about a variety of topics including tuition freezes, enrollment numbers and even community concerns.

Southwest Minnesota State University and Minnesota West are both part of the Minnesota State System.