Family split by coronavirus travel restrictions

Todd Plaster and his sons video chat with their mom.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) A few hours after school, Todd Plaster is helping his sons with their homework, but the readings and math he’s helping them with came from a different school, thousands of miles away.

“They are now actually enrolled in school because we’re having an extended stay,” Plaster said.

An extended stay away from their home in Shanghai.

“In China right now, it’s their Winter holiday,” he said. “So we come up, generally, January, February, and stay with family.”

Plaster is originally from Alaska, and he and his sons came to visit family a little over two weeks ago. They were supposed to fly back on Tuesday, but their flight home, canceled due to the novel coronavirus.

“Well now the three weeks is turning into, who knows, maybe close to two months,” he said.

But their flight isn’t the only thing canceled because of the virus, their school back in Shanghai is too.

“Our schools are, for sure, all of February shut down,” Plaster said. “And we’ll see if it starts in March.”

So for now, Plaster and his sons are making the best of their time here, but not everyone made it to Anchorage. Plaster’s wife, a Chinese Citizen from Shanghai, is still there.

“This year she decided not to come up,” Plaster said.

And now she can’t join the family in Alaska because of the coronavirus travel ban, but she can stay in touch.

“We’re talking daily via a Chinese app, WeChat,” Plaster said.

But there’s another family member having a bit more trouble talking with them. The family dog, Sniffer, is also back in Shanghai, but both he and mom are safe and healthy there.

“That’s quite the distance from Wuhan,” Plaster said. “That’s probably 7 or 8 hours from there.”

And while they wait, the kids are able to keep learning, and practice their English, until the flights resume.

“We’re here at least, it looks like, until the end of the month for sure,” Plaster said. “But we’re taking it day by day.”

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