Parents at the exclusive private school that Texas senator Ted Cruz’s children attend have demanded his family quarantine when they return to the US after they were pictured without face masks on a controversial Mexican holiday.
Mr Cruz flew with his wife and two daughters to Cancun, Mexico, on Thursday while millions of Texans went without power and clean water, amid an historic winter storm that has caused pipelines to freeze in the state.
After he was pictured flying on Thursday, the senator insisted that he was only travelling with his family and always intended to come back the next day to support the millions of Texas residents affected by the storm.
He later acknowledged that the trip “was obviously a mistake and in hindsight I wouldn’t have done it.”
However, Mr Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz, 48, and children Catherine and Caroline stayed in Cancun, in a Ritz Carlton resort costing around $300 (£214) a night.
In stark contrast to the freezing temperatures in Texas on Friday, Ms Cruz was pictured in images obtained by the Daily Mail wearing a bikini on the beach, as the family went without face masks as they lounged on sun beds in the Mexican sun.
Although guests at resorts in Cancun have their temperatures checked upon arrival, they are not required to wear face masks on hotel grounds, except when they use the buffet.
In response to the holiday, parents from the elite St John’s private school in Houston, which Catherine and Caroline attend, demanded that the family isolate after they return to the US.
Although the school introduced a policy last month that required any children at the school quarantine for 7-10 days following international travel, parents have still voiced that the rules must be enforced for the senator’s family.
“At the end of the day, he’s taking this heat for using his children as an excuse for taking a vacation. And that’s a mistake,” a parent of three kids at the school, Lara Hollingsworth, told Politico.
“From a parent standpoint, all I’m asking is the school follow the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, and I need to say I have no reason to believe they won’t,” she added.
Ms Hollingsworth said that many of the parents at the school feel that Mr Cruz displayed “hypocritical behaviour” by going on the trip, as they discussed the decision and the quarantine policy on Friday.
Another mother, Victoria Konar said she does not feel “badly” for him, adding: “You start with the fact that there are people ticked off by those who think they’re the VIPs at this school who don’t want to be bothered to follow the rules because it infringes on their social life.”
While a third anonymous parent told Politico: “It’s enraging to see this politician go out of the country like this and there’s a concern that he would be putting the school at risk if he was trying to sneak out.”
They added: “There are just a huge number of people who are very angry at Ted Cruz, like most people in the United States.”
After the debate around Mr Cruz’s family became heated on Friday evening, administrators of the school’s parents Facebook page disabled comments on the post from January that announced the quarantine policy.
A spokesman for Mr Cruz told Politico that the senator’s “daughters plan to follow the St John’s policy” when they arrive back in the US.
About 13 million Texans are still struggling to access clean water due to the cold conditions, as President Joe Biden is preparing to declare a major disaster for the State, clearing the way for more federal funds to be spent on helping the residents.
Close to 60 deaths have been attributed to the weather across nine US states, as the cold conditions are expected to continue over the weekend.
Since the start of the pandemic, Texas has recorded more than 2.59 million coronavirus cases and at least 42,000 deaths, while Mexico has seen 2.03 million positive Covid-19 tests and 179,000 fatalities.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now more than 28 million people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the US. The death toll has reached 495,816.
The Independent has contacted Mr Cruz’s office for comment.