In some instances a school may have reusable hall passes for specific tasks, such as restroom breaks, which are handed as and when needed, and are returned to the teacher once the student has returned. In other cases, a hall pass may be written out specifically for a student requiring to leave the room, and disposed of afterwards.
Hall passes may be open ended: permitting students to be out of class until a task is completed, or time limited: granting a student only set period of time outside of the classroom. A variation on the concept of a hall pass is the hall pass timer manufactured by Stokes Publishing Company. This hall pass electronically times how long the student is gone so that both the teacher and the student can keep track of how long the student has been outside of the classroom.
Permanent hall passes may also be given to students who must regularly leave the classroom for a medical reason, or in order to attend club/sport activities.
In many cases, failure to carry a hall pass results in the student receiving detention or an alternative verbal/written punishment. It is usually the duty of a student or school employed hall monitor to check for hall passes.
Hall passes can be cancelled in the event of a school security emergency (i.e., trespassers, fire alarms, or bomb threats.)
Most hall passes usually include the following information:
The concept of a hall passes has entered into popular culture in the US, and is frequently used as plot device or script elements in children's entertainment.
Common themes include:
In this context, requests for hall passes by hall monitors are also commonly used as allegory to police requests for ID.
In one scene from Mean Girls the "absurdity" and degradation which the concept of a hall pass represents is displayed when Cady, a high school Junior who makes the drastic change from the autonomy of being home schooled by her Zoologist parents in Africa to being restricted in an American suburban High School, when she decides to leave class for a bathroom break. Cady's science teacher patronizes Cady by asking her, "Where do you think you're going?" "To the Bathroom." "You need a hall pass to go to the Bathroom" "Fine. Can I have the hall pass?" Students giggle in the background while Cady's teacher replies, "Funny. You can sit down now." In the scene, Cady fails to grasp the notion of such a restriction as relieving oneself or the "adult assumption" of teenagers lacking enough responsibility to go to the bathroom whenever they please. On the other hand, the teacher and students take these restrictions for granted.