“Fake Homecomings” are irresponsible, highlight ignorance of youth


Rory Knettles

Fake homecomings (FOCO) are all the rage among high school students. Recognizing the potential dangers of the event is crucial in deciding whether to have one. Art by Rory Knettles

Rory Knettles, Co-Editor-in-Chief

School officials have decided to cancel school dances this year due to the extent of the pandemic. However, groups of high school students across the country have decided to arrange and participate in gatherings regardless. These are often called FOCOs, or fake homecomings. Many groups will dress up, take pictures in a public place, and then go to a party hosted by one of the members. Although we all need socialization to keep our sanity during the pandemic, there are safer ways to see your friends.

Washington COVID-19 guidelines prevent outdoor gatherings of over five people from outside your household each week. In these gatherings,  masks must be worn and a distance of 6 feet should be kept at all times. On Nov. 16, Governor Jay Inslee increased restrictions on all activities within the state due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Washington. This includes a limit of five people from outside your home for outdoor gatherings. If you wish to have an indoor gathering, your guests must quarantine for 14 days prior to the social gathering, or quarantine for seven days prior to the social gathering and receive a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 48 hours prior to the gathering.

According to Scientific American, 10-20% of people with COVID-19 are responsible for 80% of infections. These infections happen at so-called “super-spreader” events. All it takes is one carrier at an event of any number of people to start a “super-spreader.” Recently, 177 people contracted the virus and seven died as a result of a superspreader wedding in Maine, in which one person had symptoms and tested positive in the days after the event. Gatherings like these, including for example FOCO’s, are extremely inadvisable, if they are to occur, everyone must be tested, and must wear masks and social distance in order to be remotely safe.

“Community gatherings such as weddings, birthday parties, church events, and funerals have the potential to be SARS-CoV-2 super-spreading events,” the Centers for Disease Control  said. “Increased transmission risk at such events might result from failure to maintain physical distancing and inconsistent use of masks. Transmission risk is further increased when events are held indoors.”

FOCO is an example of a potential super-spreader event. Typically, participants will gather in a public outdoor space without masks for group pictures, and then go to a party with that group and people outside of the group. If just one person is a carrier, they will likely spread the virus not only to their families, but to strangers as well. This can have a massive negative impact on public health. If someone contracts the virus, is asymptomatic, and goes to a grocery store, some people grocery store at the same time as that person have been in contact with the virus. Those people have families and interactions with other people outside of their home. Some of those people could even be an essential worker that cannot take off work because they cannot afford to. This can lead to death, massive medical debt and terrible hardship all for hundreds just because someone could not wait until after the pandemic to throw a party.

Overall, FOCOs are beyond irresponsible. Wearing a mask, social distancing and staying outside is the bare minimum of what is required to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and is the easiest way to protect yourself and others. There are different options to socialize with a large group of people without going out together. For example, set up a Zoom movie night or set up a virtual FOCO. It is not that hard to be a responsible person who cares about others. Wear your masks and stay safe.