Can teachers leave school for lunch - prioritylearn

Can Teachers Leave School For Lunch

Although not every educational institution provides its teachers the option to take a lunch break, some provide anywhere from 30 minutes to a full hour. On the other hand, others do not provide breaks for their teachers.

Teachers are given 30 minutes which can be leveraged to visit the bathroom and also find something to eat. Unfortunately, most of these institutions do not provide food for teachers.

Even when the option is available, most teachers would refrain from eating the same school lunches prepared for the students. After all, it’s no secret that school lunches aren’t the most attractive foods to eat especially when teachers have other options.

Teachers could simply carry lunches from home to school as most staff rooms come equipped with microwaves and refrigerators. On special occasions, educational institutions may also send someone to purchase food for teachers.

Another debated option would be to simply head on over to the nearest fast-food place outside the school for lunch. Teachers could simply leverage their 30 minutes break to find something the question remains whether they’re allowed to leave school for lunch.

Can Teachers Leave School For Lunch

Yes, although dependent on state laws as federal law does not mandate lunch breaks (30 minutes or more) for employees. Some states have instituted laws that provide teachers with 30-minute duty-free lunch breaks which can be used outside the school. That said, teachers are advised to sign out when leaving school grounds for their break.

While some states provide a duty-free lunch break for teachers, it’s advisable to determine your state’s regulations or at the very least confirm with your institution before taking a lunch break outside the school grounds.

What Teachers Going Out For Lunch Breaks Should Know

Although your state and institution may have laws or policies that permit you to go outside the school for lunch, it’s advisable to keep this in mind.

Sign Out Before Leaving

Before stepping out for your lunch break, it’s advisable to sign out at the appropriate office to avoid any potential issues. Signing out would provide official evidence of your absence at any particular time and also how much time you took for your lunch break.

In the event of an issue or emergency, while you’re outside the school, it would be easy for the school to determine the teachers who might be available to provide any necessary help or support.

Determine Your School’s Policies

You should endeavor to determine your school’s policies on teachers going outside the school grounds for lunch breaks. Some schools frown on the act and expert teachers to always be available on the school grounds unless during official school activities outside the school.

School Lunch

Sometimes, the school may have ordered food for the teachers or a benefactor may have done so. Teachers who might not know about this may simply go outside for lunch and miss out on a free lunch. While this might seem unlikely, it happens more than you might think.

Simply going to the front desk to ask if the school has ordered food for teachers is also inappropriate. The best option would be to alert the office you’re going out for lunch. They would then inform you if there’s a free lunch option available.

Alternatively, you could simply visit the staff room where other teachers would readily inform you not to buy food as they’re expecting a free lunch.


Although teachers may be entitled to a duty-free lunch break in some states, there may be dire or unforeseen situations that may require the presence of the teacher.

Do Teachers Take Breaks

Even in states where there’re no laws governing lunch breaks for teachers, they may have access to short breaks throughout the day to go to the bathroom. And although it’s not mandated, districts and educational institutions implement regulations governing breaks for their teachers.

Laws governing employee breaks in some states are not specific to teachers as employers, in general, are required to offer their employees breaks throughout the working day.

What Do Teachers Do On Lunch Breaks

In schools where teachers are offered lunch breaks, what exactly do these teachers do within the break period. Do they use the break periods as intended or do they do something else?

Catch Up On Work

The work of a teacher is full of activities, from preparing lesson notes to teaching, teachers always have something to do. Some even carry test scripts home to grade whenever they have any free periods.

Even when they’re given a duty-free lunch, most teachers spend that period organizing themselves for upcoming lessons, grading assignments, looking for additional study materials for students when they didn’t understand a previous lesson, and replying to emails from various parties including the numerous daily emails from students.

Lunchtime Duties

Some teachers leverage their breaks for lunchtime duties like supervising students during student lunch times. From monitoring lunch lines to addressing any issues that may come up during that period, teachers may use the majority or part of the 30-minute lunch break to help their students.

Go Out For Lunch

In schools where teachers are given the option to go out for lunch, teachers may leverage the opportunity to eat lunch at the closest fast food or restaurant. This also provides an opportunity to connect with other colleagues as a teacher could pick up food for other teachers.

After all, not every teacher can go out for lunch every day. It’s sometimes better to ask another teacher going out to pick up something for you. Additionally, teachers can also surprise other teachers and staff by bringing them an extra salad or chips.

Connect With Colleagues

It’s not easy to find time as a teacher to simply bond with other colleagues as each teacher may be busy at any particular moment. Teachers leverage staff rooms to meet and connect with other teachers to share ideas while enjoying a meal.

Even if teachers feel an urge to get some work done during the lunch period, it’s important to set aside time for short breaks. This helps promote a healthy work-life balance and provides some much-needed mental downtime.

Can Teachers Leave School During Free Periods

Yes, although it depends on the school. Teachers are allowed to leave the school during duty-free lunch breaks but may be required to sign out or inform the administration office before leaving the school.

Why Teachers Don’t Leave School For Lunch Breaks

Most teachers refrain from leaving the school grounds even on duty-free lunch breaks. Reasons behind this include:

Fear Of Losing Parking Space

Imagine driving out for a 30-minute lunch break only to come back and find your parking space taken. You now need to look around for a parking space which could end up far from your office. Some teachers simply refrain from going outside their school for their lunch breaks out of fear of losing their parking space.


Some teachers refrain from going out for lunch breaks to catch up on work. With a teacher’s day full of activities, there’s always something left to do even at home. Teachers sometimes leverage any free periods they get to prepare lessons, grade assignments, answer emails, and more.

School Regulations

While some educational institutions in certain districts may permit their teachers to go outside the school during their lunch breaks, most do not. Even during duty-free lunch breaks, some schools recommend that their teachers remain on school grounds.

These teachers are expected to remain on campus till the end of the day. Should there be an emergency the school would be able to easily identify who’s in school and who isn’t.

Ordered Food

Some schools permit teachers to order food from outside. However, it’s advisable that you inform the office in the event that you’re occupied when the delivery is made, the office would be able to safely keep your food.

Alternatively, teachers can also meet the delivery person at an agreed-on school entrance to avoid any delays with school security.

Available Snacks

Staff rooms are usually equipped with microwaves and refrigerators available to teachers. Additionally, snacks are also made available for teachers although most teachers refrain from consuming too much sugar.

Lunch Box

Sometimes it’s easier to simply bring your own food from home. This is quite common, especially in schools where teachers have little free time or are not allowed to leave the school grounds for lunch breaks.

Teachers can keep food in the refrigerator available in the staff room and leverage the available microwave to heat food when necessary. This option can be time-saving for teachers with very busy schedules.

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