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 ShelbyThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election Senate to push funding bill vote up against shutdown deadline Senate GOP eyes early exit 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 RossTrump admin asks Supreme Court to fast-track excluding people in U.S. illegally from census Trump 'very happy' to allow TikTok to operate in US if security concerns resolved TikTok, WeChat to be banned Sunday from US app stores 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."