Concerned Teacher Says She Doesn't Get A Lunch Break During State Testing — 'Students Get To Eat But We Don't'

Sadly, she's far from the only teacher who has this problem.

Stressed teacher with no lunch break / Shutterstock

When working, lunchtime is an integral break, especially for teachers, who spend their entire day educating and taking care of their students. 

One teacher was startled to learn that lunch breaks don’t extend to all circumstances.

A new teacher discovered she doesn’t get a lunch break when her school does state testing.

The anonymous teacher took to Reddit to share the predicament she found herself in.


“I’m a first-year middle school teacher, and during state testing this month, the schedule is laid out so teachers don’t get a lunch break during test days,” she explained. “The students go get their lunch and then eat in the classroom with us.”

“Is this normal?” she asked. “It’s really tough to get through these days without a break.”

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Other teachers in the comments informed her that it was, in fact, not normal at all — and she could do something about it.

“Read your contract; chances are you’re allotted a lunch break,” one user advised.

“Speak to your union rep,” another commenter wrote.

“Check your state laws,” a third person suggested.

One teacher on Reddit perfectly summarized everyone’s feelings, writing, “Testing is terrible! Nothing is normal.”

Despite the widespread belief that teachers get breaks for lunch, that isn’t true in every state.

According to Education Week, “Teachers in most states across the country don’t have duty-free lunch, bathroom or planning breaks protected by law. In some cases, teachers find themselves going without bathroom breaks and working overtime to make up for lost planning time.”


Currently, there are approximately 24 states that have laws ensuring that teachers have duty-free breaks, according to Education Week.

However, South Carolina teacher and director of governmental affairs for the Palmetto State Teachers Association, Patrick Kelly, told Education Week that it’s not enough. “This is the kind of thing that shouldn’t necessarily require legislative action. It should be something that, in many cases, school leadership should be able to figure out,” he stated.

While many teachers are allowed to take breaks during the day, no law for that means it’s not required.

“Many teachers in states without duty-free lunch or break laws still have break times throughout the day,” Education Week said. “District and school officials have the power to establish their own policies on teacher breaks. Without a law, however, there’s no penalty for not doing that.”


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Despite the push for laws protecting teachers’ lunch breaks, several on Reddit pointed out that they do not have that luxury.

Several teachers who commented on the Reddit post stated that they did not get a lunch break and instead always had to eat with their students, even on days without state testing.

“We always eat with the kids, so it wouldn’t be any different for us,” one wrote.

“We eat/monitor with kids (K-5) during lunchtime,” another added. “I take them down, sit off to the side, and eat my lunch.”

Teacher eating lunch with young students Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock


Many commenters pointed out that this is part of the problem that comes with retaining teachers. Statista stated, “In February 2024, about 54,000 teachers and other educational staff quit their jobs in the United States.”

If teachers aren’t offered good working conditions, there’s little incentive for them to keep their jobs

As more and more teachers rethink their career choices, districts and states will be forced to consider how they can make the teaching experience better. Guaranteeing lunch breaks would likely be a good start.


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Mary-Faith Martinez is a writer for YourTango who covers entertainment, news, and human interest topics.