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Plainfield native Amanda Crocker, who has been living and teaching in Shanghai, China, for three years, usually comes back to the United States four to five times a year, including for her son’s birthday in April, which she said she never misses.To get more shanghai breaking news, you can visit shine news official website.

But with the novel coronavirus pandemic disrupting global travel, Crocker said that she’s heartbroken that she’ll have to break her promise to her son Liam, who is turning 17 this year.

“I promised him I’d never miss a birthday. It’s breaking my heart,” she said during a recent video interview via the messaging platform WeChat.Liam, a junior in high school, told his mom he understands her having to cancel her trip.

“My son said, ‘You know, ma, this is going to be a great story to tell my grandchildren one day, how great-grandma was stuck in China during the pandemic and couldn’t come home for my 17th birthday,’” Crocker said.

Crocker said she has been teaching remotely since early February and has heard the earliest she’d be back in the classroom is May. She heard “rumblings” before school broke in late January for Chinese New Year, when hundreds of millions of people typically travel across the country, from a student and his mother about people being very sick in Wuhan, where the outbreak began, and that they weren't sure they would be able to travel there to spend the holiday.

While she’s seen pictures of her friends in Connecticut taking walks in the woods or on the beach, that’s not been the reality in Shanghai, home to 27 million people. The Chinese government has not encouraged its residents to go outside and many green spaces are closed to keep the masses away.

Many businesses remain closed, and those that are open won’t let people in without a mask. Crocker said she doesn’t leave home without copies of her resident permit and passport.

She said Chinese citizens are required to download an application, run by the Chinese government, on their smartphones called Health Code that determines whether they need to quarantine or can move about more freely. After filling out an in-app questionnaire, they are assigned a QR code and a color ranking — green, yellow or red — that indicates their health status. A green code allows unrestricted movement, whereas yellow could mean someone has to say home for seven days and red dictates a two-week quarantine. It's not entirely clear how the color coding is assigned.Anytime you go into a grocery store or a mall, for example, you have to show your code and have your temperature taken, which must be 37 degrees Celsius — the equivalent of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit — or less, Crocker said. As long as she has a green code, is wearing a mask and has a normal temperature, she has flexibility to move about.

“I really want people to understand, it’s strict but it’s tolerable and necessary,” she said. “I feel safer here than I would anywhere in the world right now."Still, Crocker worries about when she will get to see her son next. Fortunately, with WeChat, they are able to talk regularly.

"I’m scared. I don’t know when I’m going to see him again, hold him again. January 2 was the last time I saw my kid," she said. "I've never gone this long without seeing him. I always have been able to come home.”

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