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 ShelbyOvernight Defense: Senators reach billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill | House panel looks to help military sexual assault survivors | US increases airstrikes to help Afghan forces fight Taliban On The Money: Schumer, Warren call on Biden to extend student loan pause | IMF estimates 6 percent global growth this year Senators reach billion deal on emergency Capitol security bill 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 RossChina sanctions Wilbur Ross, others after US warns of doing business in Hong Kong DOJ won't prosecute Wilbur Ross after watchdog found he gave false testimony Commerce Department unit gathered intel on employees, census critics: report 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."