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38,000 laptops for Alabama schools were never shipped, not held up in customs

Officials learned Wednesday that the Chromebooks were not in fact held up in customs, as they had never been shipped.

Posted: Aug 5, 2020 9:45 PM
Updated: Aug 6, 2020 7:19 AM

Tens of thousands of students in Alabama may start the school year without the computers they need.

Last week, it was reported that more than 30,000 laptops, which had been ordered by state schools for this academic year, were held up in customs. It turns out, with the total now closer to 38,000, the devices never made it to America.

"What we have found now is that they were actually never shipped from China, that's where they were coming from. They never left,” Ryan Hollingsworth, executive director of the State Superintendents of Alabama, said Wednesday.

Hollingsworth told me about 20 school districts in Alabama are impacted. Now, with schools set to start across the country, he said it could take 6-8 weeks for vendors to find a new supplier -- time schools don't have.

"So our superintendents, the school districts, are looking for other suppliers here in the U.S. to purchase those from,” he explained. 

In North Alabama, Huntsville, Athens and Scottsboro City Schools confirmed supply chain disruptions delayed device shipments. Those districts told me they should still have enough computers for every student that needs one. Other districts may not be as lucky.

"We also have districts that have ordered Chromebooks, other devices that are not being delivered on time, as well,” Hollingsworth said. “When you combine that with the 38,000, you're looking at a large number of devices that school districts were anticipating to have in place for when students return."

Etowah County Schools' Superintendent Alan Cosby was the first to report issues with the shipment. When trying to figure out why his district’s 4,000 devices had not arrived, he was told by the vendor that they were stuck in customs.

"We immediately reached out to Senator Shelby's office, Senator Jones' office and actually I was able to speak personally with

Congressman Aderholt and all of them were very helpful in understanding the situation,” Cosby said.
After speaking with officials last week, Cosby decided to cancel that original order -- still thinking the Chromebooks were stuck in customs -- and place another order with a different vendor.

Even though that order won’t arrive before the start of the year, cboth traditional and virtual classes will begin on time.

According to the superintendent, the district already has about 5,000 Chromebooks -- which would cover all those attending school virtually, but Cosby says the plan is to provide one to every student.

"We just want to make sure that we're prepared -- in the event we go totally remote or something like that at a later time -- that we're prepared,” he said.

I reached out to numerous districts today to see if they were among those directly impacted. None of those I spoke to claimed to be, but Huntsville, Athens and Scottsboro all said they’re still waiting on shipments.

The School Superintendents of Alabama could not provide the full list of impacted districts Wednesday.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 525049

Reported Deaths: 10824
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson757291498
Mobile40509800
Madison34201497
Tuscaloosa25469445
Montgomery24106574
Shelby23257245
Baldwin20815303
Lee15694167
Calhoun14391313
Morgan14183276
Etowah13728350
Marshall12043221
Houston10442280
Elmore10001202
Limestone9872149
Cullman9524191
St. Clair9519236
Lauderdale9301235
DeKalb8780184
Talladega8124174
Walker7160277
Autauga6819107
Jackson6770110
Blount6563133
Colbert6244133
Coffee5438113
Dale4780111
Russell432639
Franklin422081
Chilton4161111
Covington4090116
Tallapoosa3948149
Escambia390475
Dallas3530150
Chambers3527121
Clarke347760
Marion3083100
Pike306776
Lawrence297796
Winston273272
Bibb257362
Marengo248261
Geneva246375
Pickens233459
Barbour228956
Hale219575
Butler214368
Fayette210761
Henry188244
Cherokee183245
Randolph178841
Monroe174440
Washington166238
Macon156849
Clay150956
Crenshaw149857
Cleburne147341
Lamar139834
Lowndes138053
Wilcox125627
Bullock122340
Conecuh109828
Perry107726
Sumter103632
Coosa103128
Greene91534
Choctaw58924
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 839841

Reported Deaths: 12130
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby935471600
Davidson88371927
Knox49996626
Hamilton43575488
Rutherford42477424
Williamson27637215
Sumner23591345
Montgomery19799224
Wilson18569230
Out of TN1804895
Unassigned16945133
Sullivan16318287
Blount15240194
Bradley14701148
Washington14291244
Maury13286170
Sevier13222175
Putnam11227173
Madison10913241
Robertson9645130
Anderson8657172
Hamblen8528171
Greene7777152
Tipton7257101
Coffee6845121
Dickson6765109
Cumberland6624128
Carter6502156
Bedford6458129
Gibson6430145
McMinn640097
Roane6216103
Jefferson6098124
Loudon603869
Hawkins5841106
Lawrence583786
Monroe574995
Warren552681
Dyer5380104
Franklin510588
Fayette495576
Obion450696
Cheatham448555
Cocke445198
Lincoln432563
Rhea431875
Marshall413958
Campbell411262
Weakley404464
Giles396499
Henderson374976
Macon359077
Carroll358682
White356468
Hardin352866
Hardeman347264
Lauderdale315144
Henry313175
Marion311047
Claiborne309373
Scott306145
Overton299061
Wayne294534
Hickman281146
McNairy278554
DeKalb276553
Smith275339
Haywood268661
Grainger260049
Trousdale249322
Morgan246739
Fentress238747
Johnson234538
Chester210751
Bledsoe210311
Crockett202048
Polk200924
Unicoi196849
Cannon189731
Union187234
Grundy178434
Humphreys175722
Lake169526
Sequatchie167228
Benton163440
Decatur157739
Lewis156826
Meigs136124
Stewart131328
Jackson130935
Clay109931
Houston108833
Perry105728
Moore100317
Van Buren83823
Pickett75724
Hancock56112

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