Three of the Washington area’s largest private school athletic conferences announced Friday that they will not hold a winter sports season in January.

The Independent School League and the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference released similar statements saying they will not provide league-sanctioned competition at all this winter, while the Interstate Athletic Conference said it will not begin league competition in January as proposed and will “reassess conditions in the new year.”

This leaves the door open to member schools to participate in some kind of outside competition. The potential for fall and spring sports will be reevaluated by the ISL and the MAC in February.

“The pandemic has created a need for flexibility for all schools both academically and athletically,” the MAC statement reads. “It is our hope that this decision will provide that flexibility for schools under these very difficult circumstances.”

The three leagues comprise 20 private institutions across D.C., Maryland and Virginia. They took a unified approach to athletics in late July, when the conferences issued statements saying they would adopt a condensed, second-semester athletics calendar that would begin in January. But implied in that proposal was a wait-and-see caveat dependent upon the area’s battle against the coronavirus.

Cases and deaths have spiked again this month, prompting state officials to impose increased restrictions.

Governing bodies across the D.C.-area sports landscape are sending mixed signals about the viability and safety of holding a winter sports season in the face of ever-worsening coronavirus metrics.

On Monday morning, the D.C. State Athletic Association pushed its winter sports season to February at the earliest. That afternoon, school districts in Virginia and Maryland held their first winter practices. On Tuesday, Prince George’s County canceled its winter season.

Thursday brought news that the Virginia High School League would require all athletes to wear masks during competition. Exceptions will be made for cheerleading, gymnastics, wrestling, and swimming and diving.

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