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33K laptops meant for Alabama distance learning are stuck in customs, could be held until October

33K laptops meant for Alabama distance learning are stuck in customs, could be held until October
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Thousands of laptops meant for use by Alabama students as part of distance learning programs this fall are currently being held in customs, according to local officials.

The head of the School Superintendents of Alabama, which represents superintendents of school districts across the state, told AL.com that it wasn't clear why more than 33,000 laptops ordered by some school districts were stuck in customs, though it was apparently related to the Commerce Department's crackdown on imports made with forced labor.

Local officials are reportedly in talks with both of the state's U.S. senators, Doug Jones (D) and Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate GOP to face off over earmarks next week Senate GOP opens door to earmarks Five takeaways from Biden's first budget proposal MORE (R), though at least one district was forced to cancel the order and pursue a different plan to get thousands of laptops before classes begin in September.

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“We’re going to begin as safely as we can with as many protective measures as possible,” said Etowah County School Superintendent Alan Cosby. “This is just something we didn’t anticipate.”

“It’s just one more obstacle to overcome as we begin the school year,” he added.

The Commerce Department sanctioned 11 Chinese companies accused of using forced labor in the country's Xinjiang province in July, accusing the Chinese government at the time of promoting "the reprehensible practice of forced labor and abusive DNA collection and analysis schemes to repress its citizens."

“This action will ensure that our goods and technologies are not used in the Chinese Communist Party’s despicable offensive against defenseless Muslim minority populations," added Secretary of Commerce Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossFormer Trump officials find tough job market On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits MORE at the time.

China's foreign ministry fired back, accusing the Trump administration of trying to "suppress Chinese companies, undermine the stability of Xinjiang, and smear China’s Xinjiang policies."